Written by Jennie Brackett
Scripture to Read: Phillipians 1:3-11
About thirteen years ago, we received news that even now, years later, is hard to fathom. Our young, three-month-old daughter required open heart surgery, right away. We were given the choice of two hospitals – one in Ann Arbor, and one in Indianapolis. We chose Indianapolis because it was near family and we had heard good things about the place. The Sunday that we left, with a preemie infant in a car seat, hooked up to an oxygen tube and heart monitor, our church family came together for our family. A single mind, praying a single purpose, as the family of God – it was moving, heart-warming, calming, and a blessing all at once. Fast forward to two days later, an early Tuesday morning. I must say, as a parent/mother, that time of sitting and waiting for the doctor to come take your daughter for a major surgery was extremely nerve-wracking. As we were in the pre-op area, bright and early that morning, a man approached us. We’d never met the man before. He told us he was the son of one of the members of our church and was a pastor at a local church. His purpose that morning was to be there to pray with us. This man didn’t know us; we didn’t know him. Yet the single mind message that Paul writes about in Philippians was being displayed in this man’s actions and words. He was God’s hands and feet to us, an extension of our church family, able to be there to sit with us for the long eight-hour surgery. He prayed for us, for the doctors, and over our daughter. The same voice that prayed for our daughter back in our hometown, that voice was represented in this man, 180 miles from home, in that hospital pre-op room.
What a tremendous blessing that was for us. What an example of being the hands and feet of Jesus. What a tremendous responsibility we all have, as well. When we get together, is it a gathering, or is it truly a fellowship – the fellowship that Paul calls us to have with our fellow believers? Are we focused on a single purpose of winning others to Him?
In Philippians 1:9, Paul prays that our love will overflow more and more. We are called to love our neighbors. This man, this pastor whom we had never met, was loving us as neighbors to the point it was overflowing. Imagine the nerves I had, being replaced with a peace and knowledge that God is in control of all things, always, even that operating room. Paul also exhorts us to continue growing in knowledge and understanding. As time passed after our daughter’s surgery, things were not a smooth, calm sea. Quite the contrary in fact. She had complications almost immediately after surgery, and then after several weeks, had to be weaned off of a ventilator that she did NOT want to give up. All of those things pushed our family – near and far – to grow in the knowledge and understanding that in the midst of what was a trying and chaotic time, we could always count on one thing to be a constant – God’s love for us and our daughter.
In order to be the people Paul is asking the Philippians to be, we must live lives that are pure and blameless until His return. Our lives must be filled with the fruit of salvation, the righteous character of Christ. Our lives should not cause others to stumble. We should ask ourselves the question, if the return of Christ came at this very moment, would we be ashamed of who Jesus sees? That is a convicting thought. That pastor that prayed with us in that hospital room was very much living a life that was overflowing with love, pure in intent and action, and far from something to be ashamed of. He had that single voice that God calls us to have. We all have the same story to tell. We may tell it in very different ways, but let our message always be the same. Christ came for us, because He loves us. He has asked us to do one simple thing – love. So as you go about this day, consider that. Are you loving in a way that displays God’s love?