Encouragement at just the right time

Published 8:17 pm Saturday, February 8, 2014

Here’s a newsflash: Sometimes folks get upset about what they read in the paper. Maybe they’re frustrated about a quote, maybe they’re angry about a story or seeing their names in the daily incident reports. Sometimes they’re fired up about a column or editorial that took a position contrary to their own.

Sometimes I fail to make everyone happy. My longsuffering wife, among others, will not consider this much of a revelation.

When readers get especially incensed, they call me. Through the years, I’ve had some animated conversations with those readers. Many of those conversations have resulted in new friendships. Most of the rest have at least wound up with the caller and me deciding to agreeably disagree. Some, unfortunately, have not ended so well, and that probably reflects more about my own pride and stubbornness than anything about the callers.


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Occasionally readers will call or write to praise or thank me for something we’ve published in the paper, and those uplifting interactions often come when I need them most, sometimes even within minutes of me asking God to lift me up.

One such reader a couple of years ago was Pastor Lin Stanworth of Calvary Baptist Missionary Church, who called out of the blue to introduce himself and ask me to speak to his church’s men’s group. I was thinking about that call Friday night as I stood in a long line of people waiting to pay their respects to Pastor Lin’s family at Parr Funeral Home, which handled the funeral arrangements after his death on Tuesday.

When he called, I was in the midst of what seemed like an overwhelming amount of work and what in retrospect was a relatively minor personal crisis. I was feeling beaten down and was wondering whether I was up to the tasks God had set before me.

Many of you will recognize the feeling. I know I am not alone in wondering about God’s plans, nor in my occasional propensity for succumbing to self pity. I can only hope that if you’ve faced similar feelings you’ve also experienced the joy of someone coming alongside you at just the right moment to lift you up and remind you that God has a plan for you.

That’s what Pastor Lin did for me, and he did it a couple of times during the next couple of years. During that first call, he mentioned a column I’d written about my faith some time earlier, and he said he’d shared it with some members of his church. And in that moment, in that answer to my prayers for insight, God showed me part of His plan through the kind words of one of His servants, who probably had no idea what an encouragement he would be when he chose to dial my number that morning.

Introducing myself to his family at the funeral viewing on Friday, I shared this story and found myself surprised once again when his daughter, Lindsay, told me Pastor Lin had shared yet another of my columns with them recently. Even in death, he continued to encourage me.

What a wonderful example of Christian love. I can hardly wait to thank him for it.