A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way

Just fed my dogs.  This is a routine my husband and I share every morning.  Our dogs never cease to thrill at this very predictable routine. Jordan, our 14-year-old Golden Retriever, has always been fed in the basement, where we keep his giant tub of food.  (No worries dog lovers…he owns the rest of the house.)  Lately, his arthritic hips make it difficult for him to maneuver stairs — so we began feeding him upstairs.

Occasionally, on days like today, he forgets this “new routine” and in his eagerness scurries downstairs to eat.  Then, after eating, he barks and barks again, not thinking he can make it back up the stairs. (Yes, I know his thoughts.)  I just heard him bark, and so stood in the doorway where he could see me.  When he feels he can’t make the climb, all he needs is for me to look at him and tell him I’m here and that he can do it. That’s all.  A few times, I’ve had to go down and walk with him, but most of the time an encouraging word is all he needs to muster the strength to do something he doesn’t think he can do. And it’s not in the words I say, since he can’t hear anymore.  It’s just that I’m there and care.

I realize I can at time be like Jordan, barking about something I think I can’t do.  Jordan reminds me I need to always look for ways to encourage people.  Their “barking” may mean they need some encouragement.  At least it’s worth a try.

I told him he was a great dog and that he could do it.  He quit barking, looked at the stairs  and came right up as if he was a few years younger.

The Scriptures are full of messages on encouragement.  I’ll share two of my favorite from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament.

Psalm 10:17
You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted;
        you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

Isaiah 1:17
  learn to do right!
    Seek justice,
        encourage the oppressed.
    Defend the cause of the fatherless,
        plead the case of the widow.

Hebrews 3:13
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Hebrews 10:25
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

It takes courage to live a life pleasing to God.  I’m reminded of the encouragement I need to have, and the encouragement I need to give.

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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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