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The Gift Of Time

“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.” Philemon 1:23-24

As a Pastor, I spend many hours in a car driving from place to place alone. Just this past week we had pastors meetings and I drove a total of 600 miles getting back and forth to those meetings. Most weeks the miles logged aren’t like that but still they can add up.

It’s a real treat when there’s someone with me as I make the drive.

On a sabbath, several weeks ago, I was at the New Castle church to preach the early morning service and one of the church members asked if he could ride with me to the Meridian Road church, in Butler. Since I was coming back to New Castle right after service in Butler I was glad to have him ride along.

It was fun having Karl in the car to chat with as we made the yo-yo trip back and forth over the Pennsylvania countryside; the forty minutes seemed much shorter.

Whether you’re working, or traveling, or playing, or doing nothing in particular it’s generally better if you have some one to keep you company along the way.

Paul, as he labored, almost always had at least one person working with him. And as you can tell from our focus text this didn’t change even when he was a house prisoner in Rome. In the letter to Philemon he mentions five people by name. Of these only Mark and Luke are very well known to most of us, while all we know about Epaphras, Aristarchus, and Demas are their names.

I praise God for men and women like these that will commit themselves to making the lives of others less lonely.

I’m fortunate to have not had to spend great amounts of time alone. I don’t count the minutes spent between appointments as great amounts of time even if having someone to share the time with is noticeably better.

Some of those I’m called to visit do spend many hours each day alone and I know the phone calls, and especially the visits, go a long way to relieving the loneliness.

In Matthew 25 two of the affirmations the righteous receive correlate closely with what I’m writing about. “I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” Don’t under value the worth of the hour, or the afternoon, that you might spare to spend with them. You may feel that you’ve done nothing with your day but in fact you’ve relieved a great burden of loneliness for the one you’ve visited. Know also that in the blessing of peace and relief you given you’ve blessed the heart of Jesus.

Consider who you might be a Mark, or Luke, or Demas, or Aristarchus to this week.

3 thoughts on “The Gift Of Time”

  1. These posts are such a blessing! You wrote: …”Some of those I’m called to visit do spend many hours each day alone and I know the phone calls, and especially the visits, go a long way to relieving the loneliness.”

    For most of my life, it has been a practice of mine to watch out for other people and care for them. I was the one to step up to the plate to visit people, call people, buy them things, invite them over for a meal or a visit, etc.

    And for most of my life, I’ve spent large amounts of time alone and it never bothered me until I was so sick from Lyme disease that I was on the couch 5.5 days a week. That was 2001 and some of the years since then, I’ve felt better than others, but I’ve always relapsed and ended up on the couch. During all this time, I have been one of the forgotten ones and know what it is like to not receive phone calls, visits or emails of encouragement.

    Now I am experiencing a total relapse and am on the couch again a lot. Last month I went alone to a new doc in FL and had a migraine and vomited 15 times or more on the plane and the crew was loving and took care of me. The pilot called the ambulance and I was the first off the plane and went to the hospital. Now there are good medicines for migraines and I was able to leave the hospital by 11 PM or so. I knew God was with me with all the evidences of so many people who cared. The new doc found neurological Lyme, encephalitis, Lyme, 3 co-infections and more. So it’s no wonder I am so sick.

    Last Thursday I drove to NYC alone to visit my grandkids for family Friday at school. Feeling happy to be off the couch for a couple days, I had really over did it by doing errands on the way to the city and then walked in the city and shopped. Friday afternoon, my eight year old granddaughter Lily and I drove back home from the city and we hit Friday rush hour traffic. It took one hour to drive a short distance in the city because it was bumper to bumper traffic. After the one hour, I started vomiting and having a migraine. Little Lily is in the back seat and was the best companion I could have had. We prayed all the way of the four hour trip. As I drove, I wondered, “Should I stop, should I have my husband drive down and get me, what should I do? ”

    We kept driving and I kept vomiting and suffered with the migraine. We made it home, my little granddaughter and I. She said, “God didn’t answer our prayer to take away the vomiting and headache” and I said, ” He got us home safely”-that was the prayer he answered. We had seen 3 accidents on the way home. She was so encouraging, loving, caring, cheery and agreeable all the way home and it enabled me to make the drive safely.

    So I am on day 3 of bed rest again trying to recover. And I am still alone on the couch and mostly forgotten by human beings. But I know without a doubt how much God loves me and He has never left me nor forsaken me.
    And if God ever allows me to get well, I hope to write my story to encourage all those people who are paraplegic, quadraplegic, sick with Lyme and co-infections, MS, ALS, or any other debilitating condition and have been so misunderstood and forgotten. I want these people to know that there is a God in heaven that has always loved them and that they have a future and a hope. It’s not in this world, it’s not in having health, but the hope is in the next world and it’s super real and that world is coming soon. That is my prayer that God would still use me somehow, someway.
    Thank you for these beautiful, encouraging posts that connect me more with God.

    1. Oh wow. Your comment humbles me. I may know about loneliness but I don’t know it like you and others do.

      I’m so often too absorbed in my own complications and distractions to pay attention to the even bigger problems other people face. I need to live Philippians 2:4 a lot more.

      I’m so sorry for the difficulties you’ve been facing. I’m praying God brings you help and healing.

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