I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such men.
Yesterday I had two wonderful "hang in there's" from God. One was expected (not the refreshing, but the meeting), the other was a surprise. I desperately needed both. I was weighed down after a weary Christmas, and sorely needed refreshing.
The first one came in the morning as I met with an old friend and Board member. He is a man of wisdom, a Jesus-follower with great integrity and godly influence. He is a Barnabas to me. Over breakfast, we talked of the many rigors and frustrations of church planting in New England, battling discouragement and financial pressure, dealing with meager returns despite great effort, and the need for discernment in the face of great challenge. His willingness to listen in support, and offer generous words of refreshing lifted my spirit. He made a difference.
Later in the afternoon as I was at my office working, I received a surprise call from another old friend and Church Planter. He was in the parking lot and had come to Northampton on an unrelated errand. He thought maybe we could catch up for a minute or two. He is a bona fide Jesus-follower, and another man of full of wisdom and grace. He has been an encourager and counselor to me from the beginning. We also talked of many things around what it is like to plant churches in New England. In the process, he refreshed me with gracious insight, laced with his signature wit. When he left I was lifted further.
Men such as these brothers (women too, of course), are inestimable gifts sent by God at such times of desolation and spiritual fatigue. They are like ministering angels, responding to a prompt from God to bring refreshment. In their presence it feels as if God is saying, " I know what you are bearing up under. I know your shoulders are bent, your knees hurt, and your back is weary. But take heart. You are in the company of friends who love you. And I love you. Don't give in or turn back. It is but a little while until I will bless you for trusting me and making the sacrifice to bring the Kingdom to a people wandering in darkness and death."
I so needed what they gave and God gave through me them.
Thanks guys. Thank you, Jesus.
May you receive such unexpected refreshing in your times of buckling over, even this day.