Be a Barnabas

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Photo courtesy of “chrisroll”/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I woke one morning last week thoroughly discouraged. I was struggling to understand how Angelguard was ever going to sell many copies when it appeared to only be carried by three retailers, all online ones.

I was excited having been advised ten days or so ago that stock had finally landed in the US after a month’s delay due to a bungle at the printers. This had been the second delay as the original launch date was November last year. However, my UK publisher were planning a big splash for the launch of their new fiction imprint, Lion Fiction, in March this year and decided to include Angelguard as part of the celebrations.

So to find out that none of the physical retails stores in the US were currently stocking it was disheartening.

Out of the Blue

I popped over to a blog I regularly visit and happened to notice a reply to a comment I had written a few days earlier.

BAM

I almost fell off my chair. This virtual friend shared some encouragement that blew my mind. Her words were confirmation of something I had pondered over for a while, but had never shared it with anyone else.

“Thank you, Lord,” I spoke out aloud to no one, bar Beanie our 15-week-old puppy.

He just has a way of doing that, I find. Words from out of nowhere arrive just at the moment you can do with them the most.

I stopped worrying about sluggish book sales.

Barnabas

I’ve always loved Barnabas’ story: Paul’s right hand man for the initial period of his ministry. Soon after Paul’s conversion (he was still know as Saul, in fact) he was trying to draw close to the disciples, however, “they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.” (Acts 9: 26b, NASB) It was Barnabas we are told in the following verses, who spoke up, encouraging the disciples to welcome Saul by describing his miraculous conversion.

There are other instances when Barnabas provides similar encouragement not just to Paul, but also to other believers. In fact, when we first meet Barnabas’ he was known as “Joseph” (his birth name) and it is the apostles who gave him the new name of Barnabas. (Acts 4:36-37) In Greek, Barnabas means “son of encouragement”. The apostles had first hand experience of his encouraging nature.

Surprising Reaction

The following day I was reading a newsletter from an author I follow. This newsletter was beautifully written revealing this author’s vulnerability regarding a number of personal matters. I sent a note expressing my concern and commitment to prayer. In addition, I asked a question about the launch plan for her upcoming novel.

I soon received a reply seeking some information regarding the question I had asked. I quickly provided that information and realised by the following response that I had been of encouragement and practical assistance regarding the launch plans.

I was chuffed. Here I was, a fan of this author, and she had benefited from my suggestion. It was a nice feeling to receive this author’s gracious response.

Sons and Daughters

Just like Barnabas, we too can be sons and daughters of encouragement. Every day I seek to encourage somebody. It might be as simple as a reply/RT of a tweet, a quick text message, an email, leave a comment on a blog rather than just reading it, a DM saying I’m praying for you.

Discouragement is one of the key methods the enemy tries to dislodge people, to keep them from praying or reading the Bible. Even the most positive of people will experience regular moments of discouragement. An encouraging word can never go to waste.

As a reader I love connecting with an author if I’m able to. Most authors who have websites usually provide a means for contacting them. Drop your favourite a quick comment, telling them how much you enjoyed their recent novel. You might be surprised when they drop a note back saying thanks.

But don’t encourage expecting something in return. Simply give it, be the blessing, or the gift. Be surprised and gracious if a response does arrive.

I thought I’d leave you with this great quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

Be that someone today.

11 replies
  1. Teresa T
    Teresa T says:

    I did not know the meaning of Barnabas. What a terrific legacy to be named son of encouragement. It makes you wonder what we would be named based on our prominent characteristics. Hmm.

    Well, this American was able to purchase your book and I plan to start reading it this week.

    Reply
  2. Clare Froggatt
    Clare Froggatt says:

    It’s great to finally discover your blog and news of your upcoming book release in Australia. I have benefitted from your words of encouragement both for my writing and the struggles along our journey for a long time. These words certainly resonate with who you are and the way you live your life. Looking forward to reading more. Thanks Ian.

    Reply
    • Ian
      Ian says:

      Thanks Clare, lovely we’ve finally met. You can’t imagine how much encouragement I’ve got from “sharing” in your journey these past few years.

      Reply
  3. Elaine Stock
    Elaine Stock says:

    Ian, thanks much for this great post. I just experienced yet another God-will-pick-me-up moment, at a time I didn’t expect it. Funny how that happens, the unexpected time thing. After finding myself at a low point from diminishing hope after a week of not hearing back from a person I was expecting to, I sunk to a near-bottom point but suddenly refused to sink any lower. Actually, I told myself to stop, that I needed to fall back completely on God and let Him handle things instead of pressing the human default button of despair. And then it happened. An email came in at 12:10 AM Sunday morning. When I woke yesterday to check my emails before heading to church I found this particular email that offered hope, offered a sense that I haven’t been forgotten about.

    No, all my earthly “problems” and “worries” are not suddenly gone, as in magic-wand gone. Nor, am I expecting them to. But, I’m again hopeful.

    I just hope my weak mind will remember this God-moment for next time. And there will be another next time. That’s life, I guess.

    Don’t give up. God has graced you with a wonderful story to share with others. He will make it happen!

    Reply
    • Ian
      Ian says:

      Emerson has a lot of great quotes, doesn’t he? I’ve particularly loved, Margaret, how you’ve kept encouraging the tribe reading through The Bible with daily emails and such. Many a day I’ve needed that added spur to keep me going.

      Ian

      Reply
  4. Cherie Gagnon
    Cherie Gagnon says:

    Great post today. I’ve been enjoying your story (I’m not the fastest reader!) looking forward to reviewing it on Pages From Stages blog!
    As a parent of special needs kids, I find encouragement in regards to how my husband and I are doing in raising our sons fuel to keep going. It is amazing how a short email, FB message or simple tweet can lift your spirits.
    Encouraging is so easy to do, but I must admit I fail to do often enough. What a tremendous legacy to leave behind…to be known as an encourager!

    Reply
    • Ian
      Ian says:

      Hey Cherie, no rush with AG. I’m looking forward to it featuring on PFS too. I’m continually inspired by your positive outlook and willingness to dive deep into the mystery of where God has placed you. Ian

      Reply

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