I reached the top of the volcano as the sun began to dip lower in the sky. Most of the group was waiting for the last few of us to reach the summit. The wind was fierce as I made my way over to the small group that surrounded me with high fives and words of encouragement.
The thrill of standing on top of an active volcano plus accomplishing a goal that seemed unattainable left me shaky and relieved. The year before I prayed and dreamed and wasn’t sure how God would work this out. What I learned is that God is not afraid of big or little dreams. He wants to see you reach the “mountaintop” as much as you do.
Reaching the top of the volcano was a culmination of praying big, stepping out in brave faith, and lots of encouragement from others. You know the end of the story, but how did I get there?
The Journey Along the Way
It was four years ago now. My church spent a weekend sharing about the children of Nicaragua and the nudge to sponsor a Compassion child changed the trajectory of my faith journey. I slowly rose out of my seat to retrieve a packet knowing all the while that God was gently pushing me to take the first step.
A year later, I found myself on a plane to Nicaragua full of excitement tinged with just as much nervousness. My goal was to meet Claudia, my five-year-old sponsor child, but God had so much more in mind.
Most of the trip was one, new discovery after another. The church leaders didn’t know much more than we did. It was the first time venturing to Nicaragua for a mission trip. Day One began with Easter mass and a call for each of us to prepare to go on a hike to the top of a volcano. I’m a regular hiker and walker. Surely, how hard could this be?
Think hot, humid climate, little sleep the night before due to our travel day, and trying to stay hydrated.
The path didn’t look difficult, but the weaving back and forth misled the hikers into believing the incline wasn’t as steep as it really was. Somehow my easy-going steps became more labored and I fell in sync with a group of women and some teens, who I didn’t know I needed until I did.
This is where the encouragement began. Hiking to the top of a volcano is when I grasped the power of words. Reaching the top is where I found the safety net of community.
Reaching the Top
Before we began the hike, the leaders, who had climbed the volcano many times, showered words of encouragement over us. I remember hearing that we would need to rely on each other if we wanted to make it to the top. I’ll be honest with you now–inwardly, I briefly scoffed at the pep talk. I believed that I had what was needed within me to succeed and maybe I would be the person encouraging others. I can hear God laughing right now as I write these words.
Here is the truth.
- You would still find me at the halfway point without the group of hikers who spurred me on to keep going.
- There were others who would also still be catching their breath with me if I had not taken the time to believe in them as they believed in me.
- Cresting the last hill and seeing the community waiting for me was one of the most amazing things I have experienced.
- Encouragement is not just kindness. It is believing in others when they don’t believe in themselves and speaking God’s truth and grace over them.
- Reaching the top of the volcano was not the best moment. Discovering God was there waiting for me was.
I learned how much words of encouragement and brave faith could take me farther than I ever thought was possible. I am pretty sure I am not alone in this.
Why is Encouragement so Important?
God tells us we were never meant to journey through this life alone. It started in Genesis when God created man and then woman (Genesis 2:18). The Book of Numbers speaks of helping to carry the burden for others.
They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone (Numbers 11:17).
Paul calls us together to grasp the depth of God’s love.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:17-18).
We are not only called to community and finding ways to build each other up, but we are better when we seek strength from God first and others second.
I love the description of community in Acts, but especially in Chapter 3.
All the believers were one in mind and heart. Selfishness was not a part of their community, for they shared everything they had with one another (Acts 3:32, TPT)
What if today we take a chance on other people. What if encouragement is not just something we give but receive as well. When the way becomes difficult, can we let go of trying to rely only on ourselves and graciously call on God and “our people” to gather around us?
Maybe, we have spent so much of life believing that strength comes from doing it on our own. Maybe, we need to pause that thinking and grasp a new way.What if today we take a chance on other people. What if encouragement is not just something we give but receive as well. #bettertogether #TellHisStory #linkup Click To Tweet
May I introduce you to the One who is our strength and firm foundation? His name is Jesus and if you don’t know Him will you message me? I would love to pray with you. If you already know Jesus, will you remember that it is okay to ask for help and seek the encouragement of God and others to get you to the top of your mountain?
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