“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement,
because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.”
I was stationed near the finish line of the recent Atlanta Marathon anxiously awaiting the arrival of my wife. She was running her first marathon and I wanted to be there to see her cross the finish line.
Five hours came and went with still no sign of her. The wait got agonizing and I began to worry if she was okay. Then the text came in…“Mile 25 but hurting.” One mile to go. But could she make it? I was there with a couple of other family members and we decided to fan out away from the finish line. Kelly’s brother went up about a half mile from the finish line and the rest of us filled in closer to the end.
Kelly saw her brother and then something amazing happened. She began to cry. Her tears flowed even heavier as she saw each family member come into view. I was about 100 yards from the finish line and, when I got her attention, simply yelled out “It’s right there!” When she crossed the finish line, she let all her emotions out and was “puddles” as we like to say in our house.
It was a truly moving experience. I couldn’t have been prouder. But when I asked Kelly about the race, all she wanted to talk about was seeing her family and how much it meant to her that we were there. Joy along the way…
Paul was a prisoner facing the end of his life. In his shortest letter recorded in the Bible, he thanked his good friend Philemon:
“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” Philemon 1:7
Philemon was a key member of Paul’s ministry team. He opened up his home to other believers. Even in his dire circumstances, Philemon’s work propped Paul up. Joy along the way…
This season, may we find joy along the way — the polite stranger, a smile, a kind word, the pat on the back, or good news.
Dear God, thank you for being with me as I run the course of life. May I find joy in your presence and your promises. Make me keenly aware of those folks that provide me joy along the way — those people I cross paths with that refresh my heart. And thank you for the joy I can have in knowing that you’ll be waiting at the finish line when the race of my life comes to a conclusion.
Johns Creek Baptist Church