Several years ago, during a rather difficult time, I drove into a small hamlet whose only governing traffic pattern was a four-way-stop. As I stopped at the intersection, simultaneously, a young girl on a bicycle pulled up beside the car. As I glanced at her, our eyes met for a brief moment and she flashed the most beautiful smile. My heart immediately responded as though it had just been brushed by the hand of God with warmth and healing.

When I drove out of the small village, I began to reflect how “small,” but also how “large,” the preceding incident had been. We didn’t know each other. Chances were slim that our paths would ever merge again. And yet the radiance of her generous smile was a gift that energized a heart in need at a very well-timed moment.

As I contemplated that moment, it became evident that the girl’s smile had served as a seed of energy in a depleted soul. The message was clear; a few seconds given to encourage can change someone’s day. It takes such a small amount of time to do it. The total time of the glancing exchange with her was less than 10 seconds, but the continuing effect would go on for ours in my heart.

The story of the woman who broke the alabaster bottle of perfume and poured it over Jesus’ feet is a similar story. Those around were about to criticize her for allowing her emotions to get away with her. And what about all of that perfume she wasted? But just when they were about to grumble, Jesus pre-emptied their thoughts with, “What a beautiful gesture of love on her part. In fact, it was so beautiful that she will be remembered in this story is told as long as the earth stands.”

We may not be up to pouring bottles of perfume on the feet of those who are hurting. However, a card of encouragement or a phone call expressing concern can do the same thing. Giving a few moments of our time to help support a heavy heart or sharing with someone in need can pour like sweetness on a needy heart. Or…a simple warm smile, spontaneous as it may seem, can pour oil of healing on a heart ridden by despair.

A young woman trapped in a situation of hurt and pain received a phone call from an elderly lady who had been in a similar situation when she was younger. For a brief time, the woman was able to unload the pain of her soul into a receiving heart that knew how she felt. While the time spent together didn’t change anything, the hurting you woman later commented, “when I went to her home, all of the stars had fallen out of my sky. But when I left, she had placed them back again.”

Or, a few moments of time from an understanding person caused a heart in despair to smile once again. And that “smile” had become a vehicle of immeasurable encouragement just like the innocent bike rider I met that day.