February 5, 2010

To Live is Christ — without baggage

Today’s verses fill me with mixed emotions. I’m sad because I cannot pray this exact same prayer that Paul prayed. 
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now. (Philippians 1:3–5)
I lived on a farm that “first day” when Christ came into my life, and attended church in a nearby small town. I had several Christian friends and studied the Bible each week with several women. Since then, I have moved 14 or more times. I have lost contact with some of those people. A few have gone to be with the Lord.

Continual fellowship with the same people throughout my Christian life has not been possible. I’ve lived in several places in Alberta, one each in Saskatchewan, Alaska and Illinois, and two in California. In all that, we have attended several churches and met many people.

Keeping up with all of them has not been possible. This week I did talk to a Christian I’ve known for more than thirty years, but I’ve not seen her face to face for more than twelve years. We live too far apart, but I still pray for her every week. For me, prayer is the only connection with many Christian friends I’ve met and had fellowship with over the years.

Relocating often has pluses but other minuses. On one occasion we were at a Bible study in a city where we had just moved. The hostess introduced us to another couple and said, “Don’t get to know them too well though. They are going to be moving soon.”

It hurt, but it describes what happened to us many times. We made friends then left. Some we still have contact with, and some we still hold up in prayer, but the connection has been broken with most.

These are sad thoughts, but Paul does say he prays with joy and I can do that too. As names and faces come to mind, my heart delights in good memories. I’m thankful for all the Christian brothers and sisters that we have known since the “first day” and can still speak to God about them with joy.

How is this practical? I never thought about it until today, but we left none of those places we lived with hard feelings or anything to regret. If we went back (and we sometimes do), there are no grudges or bridges that need burning. God is good. We have moved, but we have moved without baggage, and that is also something that gives me joy and makes me thankful to God.

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