"The First Best Thing"
I haven't seen them in 34 years now, or at least most of them. When we said our goodbyes, I surely intended to stay in touch. But we all say that when leaving people with whom we've shared a portion of our lives.
As a young man, I worked at a local bank for several years. My time at the two branches where I was assigned proved to be valuable experience in many ways, including and especially relating to people from various walks of life. I made good friends, some of them believers like myself, and I enjoyed working with people like Johnnie, Bebe, Carolyn, Kitty, Jim, Shelia, Mr. Brown, and, well, the list could go on and on of dozens of folks who still occupy a place in memory and in heart. Again, I have not seen most of them - nearly all of them - in more than three decades. Some have moved away, some have passed away, and some may still live closer to me than I realize. But they are gone from me, and I from them. Although not completely…
"We… do not cease to pray for you" (Colossians 1:9).
This past Friday marked the anniversary of my leaving the bank on September 28, 1984. The day reminded me to do something I have regularly performed since saying farewell to the people with whom I shared a brief, but important time in my life. I prayed for them once again, seeking to remember as many names and faces as possible. I couldn't remember all of them. However, I do know someone - Someone - who can and does. I asked the Lord to continue His work in their hearts and lives, requesting growth in His grace and knowledge for those who believe, and asking Him to graciously work in those who don't believe to convince, convict, and convert. I sought His blessing for each one, even as Scripture declares, "the Lord is good to all" (Psalm 145:9). And I asked that He administer the solemn and serious nature of eternity, particularly among the unbelievers who must realize both the available mercy and the dire consequences of rejecting God's offer of salvation. I also made supplication for those who may be hurting, whether in soul or body.
I found, as I always do, great joy in praying for these friends and colleagues from long ago. And for some reason, I seemed to remember far more names and faces than usual (I've never made a "bank prayer list," for some reason). I've always felt that praying for people far away (whether in distance or access) makes them feel closer. Most importantly, I believe that God answers such prayers, since He's the One who works in our heart to pray them. So, since I will never see most of those for whom I pray again in this lifetime, I do the next best thing. Or maybe, just maybe, it's the first best thing…
"For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers."
"I have you in my heart."
Weekly Memory Verse
What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.