Last week, our family made the long drive down to North Myrtle Beach for our very first beach vacation as a family.  Our youngest son, Mack, informed us that he would not be going into the ocean because a crab might bite his toe.  The encouraging mother in me assured him that the likelihood of this occurring was low and that the fun he’d have would beat out his fear of the crabs. The pragmatic me thought “this is going to be one long week if he never goes into the water.”  On our first official beach day, after we lugged everything to our spot, set up the chairs and umbrellas, and applied ample amounts of sunscreen… we headed to the water.  Mack stood at the edge and let the water come up over his feet.  He watched as his sister and dad head out to jump waves.  I said nothing… I didn’t have to…it was as if he was called out into the water.  He took one look at me then looked back at the waves rolling in then took off out into the water with no thoughts of crabs biting his toes. 

It occurred to me that we all have worries of “crabs biting our toes” that interfere with us jumping into the water.  Fears and worries are a big part of who we are as humans and it seems that nowadays… they occur more than ever.  The challenge is overcoming them so we can fully enjoy that day at the beach. 

Back to the story of Mack… you noticed that I did a lot of talking and encouraging in the car about getting into the water.  I guess that is all good… verbal encouragement and such.  But as I stood next to him at the water, I said nothing… I held his hand and walked with him into the waves while the overwhelming pull of just how amazing it all looked drew him into the water.  That ocean and its waves were WAY better than the fear of any little crab that just might bite his toe.

That is how I think we need to be with each other in our day-to-day lives.  A word of encouragement and love are nice and often necessary, but is that all that is required? I believe that to truly encourage someone requires us to stand beside them through fear and doubt, encouraging them to see the vast, beautiful gift laid out in front of us… God’s grace and love.   We encourage our friends and family members in all aspects of life… education, sports, relationships, work… but as Christians we are called to encourage each other with God’s truths in order to strengthen the church and us in it.   I am blessed to have a husband, friends, and family who encourage me to continually grow in my faith and in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  I am also encouraged by the gifts that God has placed in my life and that I’ve been aware enough to take them in.

Remember that beach… I was sitting in my chair letting the waves lap at my toes (no crabs!), with my eyes closed, listening to the wind and sound of the waves.  It occurred to me that those waves will NEVER stop rolling in… they are constant, consistent, powerful, but also inviting, relaxing, and fun.  Hmmmm…. like God’s love for us!  No wonder Mack didn’t need a word from me to jump in… all he needed was to see it.

““ May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Jesus Christ had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.””

— Romans 15: 5-6

Julie holds a Ph.D in special education and works at Lehigh University as a research scientist and adjunct faculty member. She is married to Pat and is mom to Leah (9 yrs) and Mack (5 1/2 yrs). They live in Hellertown and love to spend time with their friends and extended family included 30+ college wrestlers!  Julie has been a member of FPCB for about 5 years and enjoys being a part of the Oasis band.