Your Presence…My Joy
Note this amazing nugget from Paul’s love letter to the Philippians (1:25f)…“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.” Isn’t that a wonderful truth about the relationships Christians may have? You see our time together isn’t supposed to disappoint or discourage us. It’s supposed to help us grow in the faith and to overflow with joy in Christ!
Haven’t you experienced that? Aren’t there Christians in whose companionship you simply delight? Don’t they do good things for your heart? Don’t you look at them and think, “This is what serving Jesus is supposed to look like?” Don’t they influence you to want to be better…without ever verbalizing to you, “Hey, you should be like me!” No…it’s other than that. It’s what Christ has done to them and is doing in and through them! You don’t think of them and conclude, “So that’s what the power of positive thinking can do for a person. I need to find out what seminar they went to and go there myself.” Rather, you think of them and feel compelled to thank your Father God for the gift of such a person. Such a person provides credible evidence as to the difference Jesus can make in a life. There’s something about being in the presence of this kind of Christian friend that helps you believe your life can grow in the direction of Jesus too. And you want that to happen. You want it for your Lord…and you want it for your friends and family too. You want to be to others what Christ has caused your Christian friend to be for you. That’s just how it works. That’s part of why relationships within the family of faith are so very important.
Following is a poem Judith Viorst wrote for children, that gives us a peek at the importance of a friend…and the keen sense of loss when a friend leaves us.
The tires on my bike are flat…the sky is grouchy gray, At least it sure feels like that since Hanna moved away. Chocolate ice cream tastes like prunes. December’s come to stay. They’ve taken back the Mays and Junes, since Hanna moved away. Flowers smell like halibut. Velvet feels like hay. Every handsome dog’s a mutt, since Hanna moved away. Nothing’s fun to laugh about. Nothing’s fun to play. They call me, but I won’t come out, Since Hanna moved away.
Do you know that feeling? I do. It feels like a wound to the heart that will never heal. Now…we aren’t in charge of when, or who, or how God brings such a relationship into our lives. We must simply allow our hearts to remain open to such possibilities. And God may surprise us with joy as He loves to do.
But we are in charge of bringing our hearts under the control and preparation of the Lord Christ that He might make of us the kind of nurturing Christian He has in mind. We, too, can be joy-bringers to our precious sisters and brothers in Christ. We too may add progress in their faith. But we will have to follow our Lord outside of ourselves. We must want His attitude to become ours, so that we stop looking only to our own interests and needs and look to the interests of others. Maybe you’ve heard the adage, “Some people brighten a room when they enter…others when they leave!” The question for me is, “Which kind of person am I?”
Dear friend in Jesus, including those of you I haven’t met yet, I do love our together times, whether face to face in warm fellowship, or heart to heart as we read each other’s thoughts about the wonder of our Savior and His goodness towards us…because time spent with you increases my joy in Jesus and my progress in the faith. I love you.
If you can spare the time, tell us about someone the Lord has brought into your life who always increases your joy and growth in Jesus.