“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 people.” 1 Corinthians 16:17-18 (ESV)
We’d all herded into the small waiting room at the crack of dawn, each of us there for a loved one’s surgery. I noticed a woman sitting across from her husband, frail hands clasped in his. When the nurse called him back, their lips met like two butterflies.
Hours later, the doctor sat to talk with her. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but the physician’s matter-of-fact words fell like bricks. I heard her intake of breath at the worrisome news.
This caused me to look at the man sitting beside me. Our hands weren’t gnarled with time, but several years had passed since we first fell in love and walked down the aisle. Children came. Activities and busyness and commitments pulled and tugged at both of us all the time. We often talked about the season of life we were in, giving lots of grace to each other, but also knowing that our relationship sometimes came in last.
As I watched this elderly woman wipe away tears, I wondered: One day, when our hair is white with age and our lips meet like butterflies, will I wish I had done anything differently?
In today’s passage, Paul writes from prison. He’s in a hard place. As he wraps up his letter, he shares the news that three friends will soon visit. His description of these friends cracks wide open a need in Paul’s heart.
“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 people” (1 Corinthians 16:17-18).
Paul is in need of refreshment, something that seems to be absent at that time in his relationship with the church at Ephesus. His tone isn’t condemning. The church has been a blessing in the past and will be again. However, he takes special care to describe how the arrival of three friends is a welcome respite.
That day, as I watched the older couple, it caused me to reflect on my own marriage. Sure, I was present. My husband knew I loved him. Yet, I didn’t want to look back one day with regret, knowing I’d been absent, or had taken him for granted or always gave our marriage last place in our busy lives.
That led me to look for ways to show him that I loved and appreciated him — right then, in the midst of our busy lives. One day, I broke down the recyclables and took them to the curb. It was a small thing, but it’s something he often had to do at the end of a long day. I left a note on the bathroom mirror that said, “I love you,” and his smile when he came out showed me it hit the spot.
There were deeper ways to show him he mattered, such as forgiving a small hurt I might have once held onto. I put his name in my journal and prayed for him daily. I tried to remember to laugh with him, rather than be serious about all the to-do’s we had to tackle.
None of this cost me anything, but I could see that it refreshed him. In fact, it refreshed us both.
As we live day-by-day, pulled in a thousand different directions, may we be intentional. Seasons will pass. One day, when frail hands clasp, and lips meet like butterflies, may it be with few regrets. Let us look back and know that when our loved one saw us coming, our presence was refreshing.
Such a person is worth knowing.
Dear Jesus, I’m so consumed by the day-to-day commitments that my closest relationships can get a little lost. Show me ways to bless those I care about today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (NIV)
Ephesians 4:2, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (NLT)
One barrier in our closest relationships is unresolved hurt. Suzie Eller’s book, The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness, gently helps you work through that barrier to find a fresh start.
If you're looking for Valentine's Day presents, Proverbs 31 Ministries has a collection of biblically-based gifts for you in our bookstore! Shop for yourself or for a loved one in time for February 14. Click here to view the collection.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
We often think that a loving gesture has to be big or over the top. Consider one small way to tell your loved ones what you love about them.
- Send a text that acknowledges something kind they did.
- Compliment them sincerely.
- Pray for them throughout the day.
© 2018 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.