Absence... and Presence
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Sometimes, I think that's entirely true. Sometimes, though, I think that in our independence, our stance with regard to people is more "out of sight, out of mind." We grow so occupied with the busy-ness of our daily life, much of it self-inflicted, that we lose touch with friends and family we don't encounter frequently. There's an irony that in this day and age, when we have the means to stay in face-to-face contact in real time with friends and family who are thousands of miles away, we act as though they're unreachable. In a way, I think many of us act the same way with regard to God. Jesus made a way for us to converse with God unceasingly, yet because He is not visible right before us, we forget that He is here every moment.
When reading Paul's letters, I've always been amazed at his drive to stay in constant communion with God, and in consistent communication with congregations all over the world. He'd never met some of the people he wrote to, yet he reached out and taught, admonished, and prayed for them passionately. Consider Philippians 1:3-11:
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 and, 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 for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
These past two weeks, as we've been asked to maintain social distance from one another, I've observed something extraordinary happening. Now that we are forced to avoid meeting with the people we see every day or week, people have started reaching out to friends and family they've been away from for years. I've noticed that people who only see one another at church on Sunday are reaching out throughout the week to check in with each other.
Paul was so often isolated - traveling all over the world, frequently imprisoned, on a mission that invited persecution from all those he'd associated with in the past - yet his letters show how intimately connected he felt to those he wrote to. Even more, he was intimately connected to the Lord - bursting out in prayer at a moment's notice.
My prayer for each of us is that we would learn some important lessons during our time of isolation. May we continue to reach out to our loved ones, no matter how far away they are. May we embrace the fact that even when we are alone, God is right here, ready to have a conversation. May we thank God for one another, praying with joy that our love and discernment would grow, to the glory and praise of God.
Ruthanne - March 28th, 2020 at 10:36am
Beautiful, and well said. Thank you for sharing, and for your prayers.