Sunday, August 18, 2013

Goodbye to friends... for now

One of the sweet benefits of ministry life is the opportunity to forge friendships with other believers. But the flipside of this is sometimes having to say goodbye when the Lord moves us elsewhere.

Even before we arrived in Indiana, we'd already begun getting to know a couple of sweet families from the church there. Jeff spoke with the men on the phone quite often, and these families carved time out of their vacations to spend a Sunday afternoon with us in Georgia. On our move-in day, these were the folks who brought groceries, then guided us to local Mexican food and ice cream places to help ease our transition.

Though our ministry took some unexpected (to us, not to God) twists and turns, these friends wrestled through the issues right along with us and, ultimately, when a line was drawn in the sand, stood on the side of biblical authority and fidelity. They encouraged us, comforted us, and rejoiced with us -- a rare blessing indeed.

And then, just over a week ago, they gathered other mutual friends together to tell us goodbye and encourage us yet again. Yet we know that this was not a real goodbye... thanks to the blessing of technology, our common love of missions and the church, and the hope of heaven, there is no permanent parting of believing friends.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel form the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless of 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 ESV)

Have you known special friends like this, friends who have been faithful and encouraging to you? Quick suggestion: send them a note today to let them know that. And we'd love for you to leave a comment below, as well, to tell us about your friends.

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