I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:3-11 (NIV)
Last week, I got a call from someone from my past. It is someone husband and I care deeply about, even though the choices they have made were not ones we were pleased with. We know this person was put in our life to teach us to “love the sinner, not the sin” and boy did they help us to learn that lesson. Despite our efforts to help and nurture, this friend decided to go their own way. We could not stop them from leaving, but neither could they stop us from praying. Periodically, this person will surface in our lives. Sometimes, we provide a place to sleep for a few nights, sometimes, a meal, sometimes, just a word of encouragement. We have promised to always love this person, and no matter how hard they make it for us, we will. I was thrilled last week when they called and asked to go to lunch. Sadly, I could not go the next day because I know this person will sometimes quickly lose interest in making contact. Do to work obligations, I could not drop everything and go meet them. Our reunion was delayed for three days. On Monday, I went to the restaurant at the appointed time to find it closed. I sat in the parking lot for thirty minutes hoping that my friend would show up, and we could go somewhere else. I called their cell phone but the mailbox was full. I waited and watched and hoped every car that drove past might be the one I was looking for. To no avail. Does that mean I will not agree to meet the next time this person calls? No, despite disappointment, I chose to continue to love them. I heard a great sermon this weekend on Phillippians 1:3-11. It was entitled “How to Enjoy the People in Your Life.” The preacher made a lot of lot of good points such as “Don’t judge people on how far they have to go instead measure how far they have come,” “The quickest way to change a relationship is to start thanking God in prayer for the person,” “Remember the best and forget the rest,” and “If people are not on my heart, they are on my nerves!” But the best was the reminder that I cannot really love without Christ. Was I disappointed that my friend did not show up to lunch? Yes, but when I allow Christ to fill my heart with love for my friend that love overcomes all disappointment. Remember those orchids that I repotted and moved into shade a few weeks ago? They are all sprouting new leaves and one, a scraggly half dead plant, is blooming. Water, orchid bark, Miracle Grow and room to spread their roots were all they needed. I poured attention and care into them and am reaping the rewards. Will I see such rewards in the relationship with my friend? Maybe not here on this earth, but surely someday in Heaven.