The Blessing of Friends
2Tim. 4:19 ¶ Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
2Tim. 4:20 Erastus remained in Corinth; Trophimus I left ill in Miletus.
2Tim. 4:21 Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers and sisters.
Paul is writing some of his final greetings in life while he is under arrest in Rome. He has made tremendous friends throughout the journey of life and especially some of those now residing in Ephesus. Priscilla and Aquila have been compatriots, fellow team members, discipling many new believers and organizing a church without their own home. Onesiphorus has opened his home to Paul and his ministry and it appears he also traveled to Rome and helped to care for Paul there. Other friends are remembered as well from different stops in the journey. Upon reflection, they have been a blessing to him and he is grateful for them, and his new friends as well.
People like me, known as Third Culture Kids, or TCKs can struggle a bit with friendships. We have had to deal with the pain of people coming and going out of our lives from the very beginning. There are always those visitors who came to our country and became precious to us in just a short couple of weeks, or months, or maybe even a whole year. They were the ones who came on short missions trips or as guests and somehow you just connected with them but just as soon as you did — they were gone. You may be blessed to see them again from time to time throughout the years but they are never around.
Then there is the country in which you live — and the people and places with which you fall deeply in love, but knowing that some day you will have to move on. Somehow you want to have a protective barrier over your heart for you know the pain that it will cause when the day of uprooting comes. I can still feel my little heart pounding in my chest when, as an almost eight year old, I stood in the Frankfurt, Germany airport listening to our beloved German friends sing, “God be with you till we meet again” in German as we headed off to the plane. I felt like something was being ripped out of me and I wondered if I’d ever be the same.
I have served a life of ministry and it has meant that there is often an uprooting and it never really becomes easier. But should it? Probably not, because along the way there have been and will continue to be those special people who seem to work their way into our hearts. We fall deeply in love with the place where we are and with the people who become our friends. It doesn’t make moving on to the next assignment easy — no, it remains painful — but that’s what happens when we become vulnerable to one another.
Paul had spent a lifetime of faithful service to God experiencing this same coming and going and yet now, looking back he realized the blessing of friends that he had. Priscilla and Aquila worked with him on several occasions. They were not with him physically, and yet, they would always be his dear friends. Others, like Onesiphorus, came and visited him and helped to care for him. Even for a man who had a calling that would take him all over the known world of his day and land in him prison, dear friends were a blessing.
Today I am reflecting on the dear friends that have been a blessing in my life along the journey. If I start a list here, I’ll get in trouble. I do realize that I may not be living near all of those friends these days, but I have been blessed to be touched by them along the way. Just as Paul, I can look back and be grateful for the way that so many friends have invested in me and been willing to share their hearts with me, even if it was for a short period of time. Friends are a blessing that come from God.
There are moments in time when we open our hearts, lives and homes to one another, becoming vulnerable with our thoughts and feelings, sharing and being accepted by those who are willing to call us friend. Could it be that these relationships are just a little foretaste of the relationship into which we are invited in the Holy Trinity? We are invited into a fellowship with God, one in which we are welcomed into the hospitality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Today, let’s grab a cuppa (tea), sit down with the Lord, and thank him for the blessing of friends.
Lord, thank you for the incredible friends you have placed in my life throughout this entire journey. Amen.