How God refreshes us so we can refresh others

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How God refreshes us so we can refresh others

November 22, 2022 -

Water pours from a watering can held by a woman over a garden of hydrangeas. © NAME/By Marina

Water pours from a watering can held by a woman over a garden of hydrangeas. © NAME/By Marina

Water pours from a watering can held by a woman over a garden of hydrangeas. © NAME/By Marina

My wife finally confessed!

Do I have your attention?

My wife finally confessed that she really does like flowers!

For the first ten to fifteen years of our now thirty-six-year marriage, she consistently told me that giving her flowers was “nice” but not a big deal to her. Now it seems she has changed her mind.

When I bring her flowers, especially flowers from Trader Joe’s, she is overjoyed and impressed. She is joyful that I thought of her. She is impressed I went to Trader Joe’s because they have great flowers that last three times as long as flowers from any other store.

Nine years ago my wife’s flower-power joy revealed itself during our daughter’s wedding. My daughter wanted hydrangeas in the centerpieces of the reception tables. Those flowers, along with all the other decorations, were spectacular. Soon after, my wife started focusing on hydrangeas.

When her parents moved from one house to another, my wife asked if we (i.e., me) could dig up her parents’ two hydrangeas and take them to our house. Her parents eagerly agreed, and I started digging while they went to find a plastic bag to protect the car from getting dirty. (Note: no one was worried about me getting dirty!)

I should also note here that my mom loved hydrangeas too. She grew a fantastic blue-and-white version in her backyard for years. Maybe hydrangeas are an East Texas thing. Who knows?

Those hydrangeas became our first attempt. It’s sad to admit, but I learned some hard lessons from those transplanted flowers. It’s taken two more attempts, but our current hydrangeas are hanging in there.

What did I learn?

Hydrangeas need shade and lots of water! Like water every day!

I should have known with any flower that begins with “hydra.”

Shade and water are refreshing to pastors too.

The refreshment of God

Remember how happy Jonah was when God provided him shade as he waited for the expected destruction of Nineveh? (Jonah 4:6).

Psalm 121:5–6 says, “The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.” I’ve had plenty of sunburns but never a “moonburn.” But maybe I’m reading the poetry wrongly.

Water refreshes, of course. David famously talked about God leading us like sheep beside the “still waters” as he refreshes and restores our souls. Refreshment with and from God is essential.

Salvation is where profound refreshment begins. Peter’s second post-resurrection sermon is found in Acts 3. My favorite part is Acts 3:19: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (NIV, emphasis added).

The KJV says that in Christ God “blots out” our sins. In New Testament times, ink did not contain acid and therefore did not bond with the parchment as ink does now. To erase writing in those days was to dampen the ink and then blot up the ink until it was gone. That is what God does with our sin when we believe. David testified about his experience of God’s mercy and grace: “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (Psalm 32:1).

Salvation is the miracle of the moment. Discipleship is the refreshing adventure of each day. Salvation is the foundation of our refreshment from God, but it continues in many forms. It’s essential on a daily basis just as water is for hydrangeas.

The refreshment of others

A primary way God refreshes us is through others. The Apostle Paul includes some snapshots of friends and colleagues in his letters. One of my favorites is this refreshing picture found in 2 Timothy 1:16: “May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.”

There is power, beauty, and blessing in that statement. We can only imagine what this kingdom-minded servant with a strange name must have done to serve the imprisoned Apostle and church planter. Onesiphorus was diligent and determined in his search. He was discerning in his perspective, knowing that Paul was unjustly accused and harshly treated.

When I think of Onesiphorus, I’m prompted to think of those people who often refresh me.

  • My beautiful and thoughtful wife, who is always looking for ways to encourage and bless me.
  • My kids and grandkids, who refresh me daily with the ways they are unfolding their lives.
  • Thoughtful friends who send a text, call, or email randomly to check on me and let me know that they’re praying for my family and me.
  • Siblings who strive to keep our large family connected in the absence of our parents who are now in heaven.

In this season of gratitude, I’m thankful—thankful for Christ and his cross and resurrection that refreshes my soul with mercy, grace, adoption, and purpose. I’m also grateful for the people who are like Onesiphorus and refresh me.

I also want to be like Onesiphorus. I want to be that person who often refreshes others with diligence and discernment. My wife told me about her coworker who is choosing a different person each day in November to be thankful for. He then sends that person a text telling them why he is thankful for them. That’s a tradition I want to adopt.

As you express thanks this week, who has often refreshed your soul?

Whom can you bless?

How can you and I be shade and water to someone wilting in the heat?

If we offer a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name to someone who thirsts, we are offering it to him.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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