Encouragement Skill #6


A milestone is anything I can put on my hurting friend’s calendar that, when they see it, will  cause them to say, “I can make it until July  because I’ll get to go do ‘that’.’  The ‘that’ could be a picnic, a lunch, a concert, a trip.  The power of a milestone can’t be underestimated.

My sister, Nancy, spent some time in medical school on the island of Grenada during the time my mother was battling cancer.  For those of you near or around my age, you probably recall what happened in the early 80’s with the events on Grenada.  There was an attempted ‘coup’ on the island, widespread bloodshed, and the students and faculty of the American Medical School there were in harms way.  There was a short window of time for our military to go in and evacuate the several hundred Americans.  My sister was one of the last to board a military chopper inside the hot zone.  She had been trapped on another part of the island with a few other students and it took a while for our soldiers to find them and secure the area.   All this time, our family was glued to the news programs, waiting to see pictures of my sister getting off the C140 airlift plane at Fort Bragg, NC.  Finally, days after the evacuation started, she made it.

I’d like to tell you what was happening to my mother.  Her health and strength had regressed and she spent much of her days sleeping.  However, when Nancy was scheduled to come home, her strength revived.  The morning my sister was to arrive by plane, my mother got up, showered, put on a nice outfit, and looked/acted completely healthy.  She not only went to the airport but kept up (for a time) with all the celebrations and outings that were given in honor of my Nancy’s homecoming.  How could she do that?  Because of the power of a milestone.  It was life giving.

What is it you can plan for someone who is declining, one who is losing hope?  Maybe it’s to keep a single mother’s child for a day or a weekend.  Maybe it’s to take someone who is housebound on a long drive through the country.  Maybe it’s to take a music lover to a symphony.  Maybe it’s to treat someone to a nice lunch at their favorite restaurant.  Maybe it’s to take someone suffering from Alzheimers on a walk outdoors.  We take for granted the freedom to get out of the house, get some fresh air and feel energized.  The goal is to offer something that will help someone in decline, physically or emotionally, rally for a time because they have something to look forward to.

The Apostle Paul told the church leaders at Ephesus these parting words.  “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”  Acts 20:36   To remember the weak, the frail, the sick, the orphans and widows…we are not only inviting the favor of God on our lives but we bestow the favor of God on theirs!  When the milestone is behind them, it is not over for them.  They re-live it as a defining moment when God’s presence intersected their lives at a time when they probably felt forgotten.

Lord, show me what to do and for whom to do it.  Amen

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