“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
In the opening chapter of his good book, “How Happiness Happens”, author Max Lucado says this:
“The motto on the front door (of happiness) says ‘Happiness happens when you get.’ The sign on the lesser-used back door counters, ‘Happiness happens when you give.’ Doing good does good for the doer. Research bears that out.”
Every Wednesday I lead a Bible Study at a retirement/assisted living/skilled nursing community near my church. It’s called, The Villas at Sunny Acres. Great name, isn’t it? For the past 25 years from 1:30-2:30, right at nap time, I show up at VASA (Villas at Sunny Acres) and lead anywhere between 5 and 15 people in Bible Study over in the North West corner of the second floor.
Every Wednesday I get there at 1:15 to ‘pick up’ Miriam. She’s definitely my favorite and has been for all 25 years. She’s 84. She started in independent living and now lives in the skilled nursing wing. She has cerebral palsy. Her bodily movements and functions have been at the mercy of this condition since childhood.
Miriam is hard to understand when she speaks. Her speech is slurred and comes out in varying degrees of volume. Her legs don’t work and her arms jerk and flail as she tries to move them.
She’s also a Lutheran. I was a Lutheran growing up, so we have a bond.
Every Wednesday at 1:15 I show up at her room where she is sitting in her wheelchair waiting for me to take her to Bible Study.
One day, the first Wednesday in September, I showed up early to Miriam’s room with an idea and a bag of candy. “Miriam”, I said, “let’s see if we can make some people smile…” and I told her my idea.
We’d put select sweet items in a bag sitting on Miriam’s lap and on the way to Bible Study in the North West corner of the second floor we’d stop at every employee and offer them a sweet treat. We’d even roll right into staff offices and conference rooms without invitation and say this: “Hi Everybody! Miriam and I are here because we’ve designated today “Pop Wednesday”. Then we’d offer everyone their choice of a Tootsie Pop, a Ring Pop, a Blow Pop or a 2pack of Pop Tarts. On the way out we say, “God bless you. Have a great rest of the day and thanks for what you do.” And everyone smiles and responds saying, ‘thank you Miriam’. Pop Wednesday.
To our surprise, most people chose the Pop Tarts, then the Ring Pop (I didn’t see that coming either), then the Blow Pop and finally the Tootsie Pop.
It was such a hit, we decided to do Pop Wednesday the first Wednesday of each month and be sure to bring a hefty supply of Pop Tarts.
Pop Wednesday puts a smile on the faces of not only those ‘popped’ but on our faces too, the ‘poppers’. I love it when Miriam smiles.
Miriam and I know we can’t bless and encourage everyone, but we can encourage a few. And when we do, it makes us happy. Like Lucado says, “Happiness happens when you give ('encourage one another and build one another up’). Doing good does good for the doer. And Christians are the ones with the best motivation for doing good of all people (re-read that opening line in the scripture above).
Looking for joy and happiness in your life? Do good for someone else. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts20:35
Prayer: God, sometimes I try to find my happiness in getting. I’m old enough now to know that doesn’t work. Forgive me. Help me today to live a life of giving. Unconditional giving; encouragement that costs mere words spoken to another person can fill a happiness void in both of us. I have the best reason of all to “encourage one another and build one another up.” Thank you, Amen.
Pastor Kim Skattum, Senior Pastor
Crossroads American Baptist Church
Northglenn, Thornton and Fort Lupton
ABCRM Pastor to Pastor