Straight from a Responsive Heart
By Lisa Elliott
August is here again (deep sigh)! Don’t get me wrong. I love this time of year when the welcome summer heat brings with it the sweet and salty taste of buttery, fresh corn on the cob at its best. And I savour every minute of the lingering warmth before the fall coolness woos me back into my sweaters. However, it’s hard for my subconscious awareness to not be alerted to the heat of another kind: A familiar, penetrating sadness that reignites in my heart at this time of year. Lingering and hovering more closely than the humid heat of the summer.
Many of you are already aware of what I’m referring to because I’ve mentioned it so frequently on this blog. Or perhaps you’ve followed me as I’ve shared my journey on Facebook, or in my books, or on the speaking platform. It’s an inescapable topic that somehow finds its way into almost every conversation I have because it’s so deeply impacted my life. But I don’t apologize for it. It’s a part of my journey that the Lord has given me to share as often as He prompts me to share it. He prompts me to do all kinds of things that I’m not always comfortable with. But I’ve learned to respond when He does.
Around this time seven years ago we received word that a neighbour’s 17-year-old son had tragically drowned. I remember saying to my husband, “I can’t imagine losing a child in a ‘happy’ season”. He asked me what I meant by that, seeing as losing a child at any time of year would be tragic. I agreed. Then, I did my best to explain what I meant. You see, to me, summer is supposed to be fun and carefree. And, for a reason I had yet to discover, I was resonating with this family on a level beyond my comprehension. I also knew I had to do something to express my heartfelt condolences in a practical way.
This might make sense to those of you who, like many I know, most directly my own husband, quite naturally express themselves to those dealing with a crisis such as this in practical ways. However, it was completely uncharacteristic of my non-practical nature. So uncharacteristic, in fact, that my husband commented, “You’ve been a pastor’s wife for years, with countless opportunities to offer practical support. And we both know that God hasn’t wired you that way, so why now? And why to people you barely know?” He had a point. I had no real connection to the family, other than the fact that this boy and his brother attended the same school as my four children. So why was I reacting to this news in such an obscure way? I couldn’t explain it. I just knew I promptly needed to respond to the unavoidable prompting of the Lord. That is, the strong inner knowing being activated in my heart that I had to heed. So I made a meal for them and took it to their home along with a card that I hoped would be a source of comfort to them as they processed this unfathomable loss.
It was only two short weeks later that I realized why the Lord allowed me to enter into this family’s grief zone with such empathetic zeal. On August 12, 2008, my 18-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia. One year later, on August 19, my family and I were facing the reality of his death. A year after that, the Lord prompted my husband and I to begin a GriefShare group and invite the parents of the drowning victim to it. Since that time, we have facilitated several more GriefShare groups and have spoken into the lives of many grieving parents at His prompting. I don’t know what impact my practical gestures, encouraging words, or prayerful thoughts might have on any of these people.
My point is this: the Lord sometimes prompts us to enter into the lives of others for reasons we may never know this side of heaven. Other times He makes His divine purpose very clear. It could be He’s prompting you to do something as simple as making a timely phone call, or writing an encouraging note or email to a friend. Maybe He’s prompting you to use your gift of writing to speak into someone else’s life you may never meet based upon experiences you’ve had. Think of the last time you felt prompted by the Holy Spirit. No matter what you may be sensing the Lord prompting you to do today, respond accordingly. You won’t be sorry you did.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” (Psalm 32:8 NIV).
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org