When I was young, my family seemed to always be traveling somewhere in the car. My father had many health issues, so we were always trekking from point A to point B to get him to doctor appointments and the health care professionals he needed to see. I'm sure all the parents in DW's audience can attest that being in a car with young children for hours on end, day after day, can sometimes test a parent's patience. Because of this, Momba and Daddy were quite ingenious to make up little games and/or challenges for our whole family to participate in and enjoy. One of their games was "How long will your lemon drop last?"
For those of you who don't know, a lemon drop is a sugary, lemon-flavored candy that is typically made to look like a miniature lemon. They are made to be enjoyed as a hard candy and are flavored to either hold a sweet or sour/tart flavor. The kind we would enjoy would be a mixture of sweet/sour inside with an outside coating of sugar. The object of our game would be to suck on a lemon drop for as long as possible while both outlasting all other family members in the sucking process as well as beating the last lemon drop champion's time. (Yes, we'd actually time this activity.)
My brother and I had learned early on that the secret to making our lemon drops last longer was to burrow the treat into our cheeks, keeping it from touching the tongue or the rest of the mouth. That way, saliva would be prevented in hitting the lemon drop, and the hard piece of candy would not "melt" as quickly. Mind you, it wasn't easy... because those lemon drops were TART! Almost too tart to take... whew! Sometimes, we would have to stop and spit them back into their original wrapper - taking a break from the POW... BAM... ZOOM... WHAMO... that the candy promised to deliver.
The game became more of an opportunity for each of us to cheer one another on... pushing each other to stay the course and win the challenge! It was our family against those powerful lemon drops - and we were going to win!!! We'd sing and encourage one another, "You can do it! Keep that lemon drop in your mouth! Keep going! Don't give up!" It was a great way to pass the time in the car while also working as both a team and individual contestant to savor every second of the sweet/sour lemony flavor. Together, if we kept motivating one another, we would all finally see "lemon drop victory" and celebrate with, yes, another lemon drop. Ha ha.
This memory came to mind during my devotions earlier this week. I was being led by the Holy Spirit to think about the importance of encouraging others to surge ahead and claim the victory that Jesus has promised each of us when we follow His call. You see, we as Christians are called to uplift each other as we live out our own distinct lives. No matter how diverse our backgrounds or situations, we are to remain unified as the body of Christ, encouraging one another to stay the course and run this race until we see the finish line. We are to push each other to advance ahead and pray for one another to avoid sin while seeking what is righteous and holy. We are to love actively... as a family working together... and we are to do this, as God's Church, every single day!
Read some scripture with me...
See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:12-14)
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-24)
Ladies, let's not forget that we are to daily love and relate to one another as we grow in spiritual victory with Jesus. Every Christian is part of God's holy church... a community... a family. Let's remember that we are not alone in His kingdom. Because of this, we should be glorifying His name together... praying together... grieving and hurting together... encouraging together... loving together! In all seasons of this life, we are to work together to promote His goodness! Sure, we may be located apart in the physical sense, but we are not apart spiritually. We are powerful when we are unified as we pray and are led by the Holy Spirit!
We all have a "lemon drop" in this life to suck on. We all must endure the sweet and the sour that comes with every new day. But with the help of our Savior, we are able to live joyfully together as we push one another toward the finish line and claim VICTORY. No matter how sour or sweet our days may be, let's reach our goal, Ladies! Let's run this race! Let's encourage one another to stay the course! Our reward is Jesus!!!
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let's rejoice...together! Let's be glad... together! Let's find victory in the name of Jesus Christ... together! We are His people... we are His family!
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)