I Can Only Thank You In My Prayers…

A very nice, unexpected thing happened to me today that took me completely by surprise. But, as usual, there is a back story…

You see, Janet and I know a middle aged man who works relentlessly – long hours with low pay and he never, ever complains about his situation. He attends church at 7:00 am each Sunday morning so he can get to his job and open the place for business. Last year, he decided to go to college and get a degree to improve his position in life for his family. After all, they live in a small apartment that is relatively expensive for what it is, but it is across the street from where he works and he can walk to his job.

He is torn between an engineering curriculum and following an accounting path so he is taking a core curriculum that will leave his options open until the middle of next year. I want to stress that he is a great guy and someone I see several times a week. He now works longer hours on certain days so he can get the time off to attend a local college several days a week.

Anyway, several weeks ago I stopped and asked him how things were going at school. He let me know that he is pulling straight “A”‘s but that he can only take 9 hours as it is pretty expensive and he didn’t realize the cost of books would be so high. In fact, when he told me the costs for his textbooks, I was more than a little surprised. I guess the cost of things keeps going up…

So, after prayerfully considering his plight, Janet and I decided that we wanted to help with the cost of his books. Today was the day that we started. The amount is unimportant – in the scheme of things it wasn’t very much – but let me say that my unlikely friend actually hugged me with tears in his eyes. He didn’t even want to accept the help. He went on to tell me that the only way he could ever thank us was in his prayers.

I was touched. I don’t think anyone has ever said that to me before. Yes…. many people have prayed, and continue to pray, for Janet, me and our family. But nobody that I can immediately think of has ever put it quite the way he did. I felt truly special and knowing how intentional he is in his prayer life, I knew how sincere he was.

What spoke to us in the first place was the fact that I went back to school as a middle aged student when I completed my master and doctoral work. It was tough – you don’t learn things as easily when you are older and have been out of the habit of study for so many years. Not only that, but you don’t have as much in common with fellow students and it can be a lonely road to travel alone. And then there is the cost. When I went back to school, I wasn’t able to work as much and you really have to watch your nickels and dimes. Imagine our surprise when we went to make payments on my account and found out that the debt, my annual tuition for two years, had been paid by friends and donors. It was a real blessing and made it possible for me to continue. I guess we are just trying to pay it forward a little… and it felt great to do… after all, we have been blessed…

The apostle Paul had a habit of letting people know that he thanked God for them and prayed for them. Our verse for the evening highlights one such time when he was writing a letter to his friend, Philemon. The book of Philemon, one of the shortest in the Bible, is one of my favorites. It’s about a slave by the name of Onesimus who ran away from Philemon, served Paul, came to know the Lord and finally, was sent back to Philemon by Paul – but sent back as a brother in Christ as opposed to a slave…

Paul’s letter to Philemon is a study in compassion, humility and many other Godly traits. In the opening verses of his letter to his friend, Paul tells him, in Philemon 3-5, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.” My encouragement this evening is that God loves it when we help and pray for one another. And He loves it even more when we lend a hand to those in need. My prayer is that you will be on the look-out for those who could use a little help in their lives. I doubt that there are any among us who became successful strictly by ourselves. Remember, it takes a village… and it feels so good to help others! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

 
 
 
 

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