I need to be encouraged. So do you. The word “encourage” means “to fill with courage.” I need that. Sometimes I’m not sure I have what it takes to face the challenges of life. I need your help to fill me with courage. And I have a hunch you need it from me. It’s as if we take an IV and stick it into each other’s arm and pour in the courage.
I know of no better place to be filled with courage than the local church.
Hebrews says this.
“Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”
Never underestimate the importance of encouragement. We all need it. And it can make the difference between success and failure.
In the early 1990’s I pastored a small church in Houston so I was forced to pull for the Houston Oilers. “Luv ya blue.” Being an Oilers fan was thankless work. No matter how promising the season seemed to look the Oilers always found a way to crush our dream. Look up the word disappointment in the dictionary and there will surely be a picture of a Houston Oiler’s fan. Always the bridesmaid never the bride.
Then came a cold day in January, 1993. The hapless Oilers were ahead of arch-rival Buffalo 32-0 at halftime of the AFC Wildcard Game. Could this be the year we finally break through?
The Bill’s starter, Kelly, went down with a knee injury. There was no possible way that an 8 year backup with only one playoff pass completion would ever be able to lead the Bills back from that half-time deficit. No way. Game over. The Oilers were finally going to win a playoff game!
Tap the brakes. Turns out that a no-name backup named Frank Reich not only could lead the Bills on the most improbable of comebacks but he would lead the Bills to the most insane come from behind of all time.
We watched in agony as Reich dragged his team out of what seemed like an insurmountable hole. They still call it “the greatest come-back victory of all time.” Of course in Houston we called it the “greatest CHOKE of all time.”
After the game, Reich, who I didn’t know was a Christian, gave a press conference. The headlines in the paper read, “Christian song gives inspiration.” Reich talked about how nervous he was about the chance of playing in that game. But then something happened that changed everything.
Before the game Frank Reich’s wife Linda got a call from his sister, Cyndee Harbold, who suggested that there was a Christian song that might ease Frank’s tension.
The song was Christ Alone by Michael English.
“It just so happened we had it in our house but I had never listened to it,” said Reich.
“My wife and I listened to it . . . I cried the first time I heard it. It just really spoke what my heart was feeling.”
In something unusual for an NFL post game conference, Reich opened with reporters by reading the lyrics to that song:
“. . . though I can pride myself in battles won . . . by his strength alone I overcome.”
The inspiration of a Christian that song provided the encouragement Frank Reich needed to play the most inspired game of his career.
Never underestimate the power of encouragement. That’s why church is so important. Church is the place where you come to get your tank re-filled. It’s where you find the courage to face the challenges of the week ahead. You need it from me. I need it from you.
So let’s be faithful to meet together, worship the God of encouragement, and then fill each other up with courage.
You inspire me. I’ll do my best to inspire you.