This month The Journey has carried some daily devotionals that I wrote two years ago. Melanie and I have been surprised over and over as these words of mine speak back to us in our present, unexpectedly changed circumstances.
One thing I have noted already is how my perception of personal visits by friends has changed. All the more surprising then to hear myself talking about them from out of the past. This morning we read something I wrote about Paul’s last letter to Timothy:
[Paul] ends his letter passing along greetings by name from four Christians with him among “all the brothers and sisters.” But he also remarks that, “Only Luke is with me.” So it seems that there really is a difference between “friends” and “close friends.” In this stressful moment, Paul longs for the encouragement that his dear son, Timothy, would bring by his presence.
Would Timothy have anything to teach Paul? Would he be able to exhort and encourage Paul, as Paul has commanded him to do for others? Perhaps. But mostly, it seems, seeing Timothy in person would bring comfort all by itself. A friend’s words matter. But when the heart is burdened, a friend’s mere presence is precious. We do not always even know what to say. We may not need to if we can just be there.
Do your friends always have to talk with you or is their company alone sometimes enough? Have you shared that ministry of your “simple presence” with others?
These days I am basically housebound most of the week. There are half a dozen or so friends who have chosen to visit me at home, most of them on a weekly basis during my lengthening recovery season. I am surprised at how much I look forward to their visits.
When I wrote that devotional, I believed what I wrote was true, but I guess it was more academic to me then. It was not something (visiting) that I did for others very often. Now, I have “non-propositional” knowledge of the concept. It’s different, and not academic at all.
So today, again, I wanted to say thank you to my visitors. And if you sense the Lord prompting you to visit someone this week, listen up. Simple presence is remarkably healing and comforting, even if you aren’t sure what to say.