Psalm 40:16 (NIV)Today was the end of Vacation Bible School at church. It coincides with my hometown’s annual summer festival each year. The past two summers, we’ve enjoyed the Saturday morning parade with friends from our small group. Last year, we all got together Friday night at the main village park for a picnic and invited some other couples to join in fellowship. It was a really wonderful weekend, and I’d hoped to repeat it this year. But this year is not last year.
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”
For a variety of very good reasons, we could only muster two other couples for dinner tonight. We have to miss the parade tomorrow, as do most of the rest of the group. We’re not likely to draw a huge crowd for an Independence Day get together, and may not all be together again until close to the start of the school year. Which, at what essentially is the dawn of summer, seems so very long away.
I am selfishly craving adult companionship. I find myself envisioning a nice night out to dinner with one or two other couples, but then reality kicks in as I try to imagine the complications of everyone’s schedules, not to mention the way the cost of babysitting either adds to the overall expense of the evening or drastically alters the class of restaurant deemed viable. And so I adjust my expectations.
But it’s about more than just a little time away from the kids — during which we all end up just talking about the kids anyway. Our good friends, those in the formal group and others with whom we have bonded, are more than just a social outlet, they are essential to our mental health. They keep us sane, heap on reassurances and really listen. We try to do the same for them. As parents, especially, it means more than I can explain to have dear friends with whom we can essentially mature together, helping each other along the way.
This feeling of connection grows more and more important to me as I age, and fortunately the inner circle grows tighter even while the outer circles expand to include more and more people. The deep blessing of a trip to see extended family in a few weeks holds for me great promise to re-establish important bonds currently kept afloat by email and social media which, as those from a different generation would report, is a heck of a lot better than the occasional letter.
So when I can’t be with people, when my heart aches to offer them support or seek theirs for myself, I instead try to offer a simple prayer such as the one found in the Psalm tonight. May these people, so dear to me, seek and find God. May they rejoice in God’s greatness. May they receive guidance, strength, patience, peace or whatever it is they need for whatever it is they face. In person isn’t always possible, but through prayer is never out of reach.
A prayer for June 14:
Lord, I so often pray for myself and my family, but tonight I want to pray for all the people not under our roof. There are so many good friends and family members on my mind tonight for so many different reasons, and surely I don’t know the half of what might be resting on their hearts. But whatever it is God, whatever you know to be a true and important concern, please listen and do whatever you can to reach them. All who know you long for your saving help in some fashion, and surely you have given us all cause for rejoicing. May your love be felt wherever it is needed. Amen.