We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people–the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world– just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. (Colossians 1:3-6 NIV)
I learned from Gene Getz many years ago that Paul has three measures for the congregations he writes to. He doesn’t measure attendance or giving. He doesn’t measure participation in small groups or ministry. Paul consistently comments on the faith, hope, and love of the congregation he is writing to. In his letter to Colosse, Paul praises this church for all three. This is rare.
Over the past several months I have been reminded of my need to give thanks. We have been involved in five congregations during the time we have lived in this community. There have been ups and downs in each of them, but the consistent thing that has blessed us have been the relationships with people.
A couple of months ago we ran into a couple in Costco. I had done their pre-marital counseling and performed their wedding. We hadn’t had much interaction over the past several years and here they were at a time when I needed some encouragement describing their walk with God and the way they were raising their daughters to follow Him. I know I don’t pray for them enough and anytime I do I have to say thank you God. They are a wonderful example of faith, hope, and love.
On Friday we got an email from a couple we’ve had no contact with for many years. They were coming to Santa Rosa and wanted to stop by and visit us. I had done their pre-marital counseling and performed their wedding as well. They live on the east coast and it has probably been 15 years since we’ve seen each other. They continue to be faithful in their walk with God and their visit was one more reminder of God’s faithfulness. We couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces as we laid down to go to sleep after they left.
I could go on. Instead, I am reminded that I have an embarrassment of riches in the people God has brought into my life through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m going to try in my prayers to remember these people and say thanks to God for them. I’m sure you have people like this in your life as well. The circumstances will be different. I encourage you to remember them in prayer and say thank you to God for their faith, hope, and love.
For my grandchildren:
I thank God every time I pray for you and I do that often.