Romans 15:24 when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while.
Paul was very focused on his ministry and he followed his calling into many new places. He was a missionary and was frequently on the move from one location to another. In this letter to the Romans he mentions that he plans to go to Spain to do ministry but on the way, he would stop in Rome. His purpose there would be twofold; to be sent on by them and also to enjoy their company.
I am struck by this line, “once I have enjoyed your company for a little while,” for it makes me evaluate my own life. I am one of those who is in a hurry and frequently on the go from one thing to the next but there is also a great need to stop and enjoy the company. We need friends and partners in our lives and we need to learn how to slow down enough to simply enjoy being together.
The temptation of electronic devices seems to always be present and may be destroying our ability to enjoy the company of others. It seems to me that the ability to hold dinner-table conversations has diminished. This was the place, in my parents’ home, where we had incredibly stimulating conversation over a variety of subjects. I simply thought that was normal and when I was together with my college friends I would try to have these kinds of conversations. It never dawned on me that this may not be the norm. One of my roommates went home with me to visit and after returning to school announced to my friends, “now I know why she is like she is.” This made me a little self-conscious but she went on to describe the conversation around the dinner table at my parents’ home. Again — I just thought this was normal.
Whenever I would go to England for the residential portion of my doctoral program my supervisor and his wife would have a group of us over to their home. We always loved having dinner at the Nobles’ as they would serve everything with lovely bone china and the meal stretched over several different courses. While the food was always incredible, so was the conversation. I was struck by the fact that Dr. Noble kept a variety of resources within arms reach of the dinner table — just in case there needed to be some fact checking. But sitting around that table and enjoying the company was always a pleasure.
Years ago Rueben Welch wrote the book, “We Really Do Need Each other.” There is great truth to that little phrase, and every time I go to San Diego I have the privilege of spending a little time with Rueben. He’s now in his 90’s but still teaching Sunday School and makes time to hang out with friends. The reality is that we are made for community and this Christian life is not one which we can live on our own. Paul needed to be sent by other believers. He needed to enjoy their company.
We need to slow down from the busyness of all that we are doing and enjoy the fellowship of the community of faith. From time to time we need to minister to one another so that we have the strength to go on. We need to put away our electronic devices and have undistracted conversations about the things that really matter. Slow down. Enjoy the company.
Lord, please help me to enjoy the company and fellowship this day. Amen.
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