“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” (Philemon 1:7)

I received an unexpected blessing yesterday.  I had just spoken at a church, filling-in for a pastor on sabbatical, and was on my way to visit an old friend who had been hospitalized.  

I say old friend because I’ve known him since the third grade.  We now live in adjoining towns, connecting infrequently as often happens in life.  It’s one of those relationships where we enjoy each other’s company for a bit, not see or speak to each other for weeks or months other than an occasional text or direct message, and then when we do see each other, we pick up conversation easily.

It’s common for me, as a member of the clergy, to go into hospitals (at least prior to Covid being at its height and no one was allowed in the hospitals other than patients and staff).  This visit, on the surface, seemed like so many I had done before.  Once I entered his room and we starting catching-up, however, we could just as easily have been in a park or standing on a street corner hanging out or having lunch someplace, aside for when the nurse came in the room to check his vitals.

He is and has long been a deeply committed believer with a son who is a pastor so it was natural for our conversation to take a spiritual turn.  In fact, he was the one who initiated that turn.  It was a relaxed and natural conversation in which we were encouraging and refreshing each other in the Spirit.  At one point, I said to him that I was receiving much more from him than whatever I was giving to him…and I was in a good frame of mind when I walked into his room.   Still, I was deeply blessed.

I’m used to being with all kinds of people, people of different origins, ethnicities, races, educational backgrounds, economic status, philosophical orientation, and belief systems, including those who would say they have no particular belief system (not true; everyone does).  It comes with the territory of what I do.  Still, like I wrote a few weeks ago, I am most at home when in the presence of those whose hearts belong to Jesus.  I was at home in that hospital room with my friend and my brother in the Lord.  So grateful; so refreshed.            

© Byron L. Hannon, 2021.  All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.  

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