Encouragement from a weathered man
We live in the age of instant messages. Little bites of information and glib remarks are texted to friends and family. Thirty seconds is the par to capture the attention of consumers. Soundbites on the evening news is all the free attention a political candidate receives to convince us of our vote. It’s difficult to bring depth into a message so short. A lengthy hand-written letter is a rare find in our mailbox these days. Once received, we grasp a hold of the warm embrace of encouraging words from a loved one who offers updates and occasional wisdom. A hand-written or typed letter is a rare treasure to be saved and read over and over again.
In the New Testament of the Bible, the book of Philippians is that kind of letter written by the Apostle Paul. But it is not just any letter. Touched by the hand of God and inspired by the Holy Spirit, its words of love and encouragement rattle the souls of expectant believers. The challenging words of “working out,” “pressing on,” and “I can do all things” bellows the embers of a zealous faith. These are fiery action words of mountain-moving hopes and dreams. While trickling through the letter like a cool mountain stream, we find soothing words of grace that reminds us that only through Christ who gives us strength can we do anything worthwhile.
Towards the end of the movie, “Chronicles of Narnia,” four children unexpectantly stumble out of the wardrobe closet concluding their stay in the land of Narnia. Standing next to the closet was the old professor. The bewildered Peter looks up to him and says, “You wouldn’t believe what happened to us, even if I told you.” With a bemused and knowing glint in his eye, the old professor replies, “Try me!”
Seasons have come and gone and I find myself looking in the mirror at a middle-aged man. Wiser, perhaps. A remnant of days gone by like holding on to an old favored shirt. Comfortable. Stained and a bit faded. Yet, I can still recognize the young man with the unbridled enthusiasm and adventurous spirit. The hopes and dreams. The confidence of believing I had all the answers and wanted to test the world with them. The same young man who eagerly grasped onto the words of Philippians to begin his faith journey in Christ.
It’s funny how the seasons of life can weather a man. The reflection I see peering back at myself is a story in itself. Disappointment can fold dreams and neatly tuck them into a breast pocket called reality. Under the guise of protection from future disappointment, the words of weathered men like myself can seem stifling to those in the throngs of youth. With that said, may I invite you to “try me.” Let’s spend some time walking through God’s letter written especially for you and for me. Through the lens of God’s Word, we can safely embark together on this “greatest adventure” we call life on earth.