What is it about my old and tattered address book that keeps me from throwing it away. It’s barely needed anymore with technology providing instant contact through email or texts. Gone are the days of letter writing and waiting a week for a reply. So why do I keep it? This old book represents the important people who have crossed my path through the years. Even though there are names I no longer recognize, it still remains in my top desk drawer like a valued treasure.
As I leaf through its pages, I notice the varying addresses of friends and family. Crossed out and rewritten down its pages are places of residences that changed like some people change their socks. Yet others haven’t moved in years. A few have passed away and, while that makes me sad, I want to write heaven as their new dwelling place. But it’s the names I don’t recognize that challenge me the most. Who were these people? Why were their names engraved in my book? What circumstances brought us together so many years ago? And what caused me to lose contact with them that even now they appear as strangers on the page? Once they had they been valuable enough for me to include them in my private listing of close friends. Time and distance have removed them from my life, and now I could discard them as easily as I could throw the old and tattered address book in the trash. But remember, for some reason, I can’t do that.
My desire is to value people. I don’t want to throw them away. Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced the pain of discard, of someone devaluing my worth, turning their back, giving me the cold shoulder. Accentuated by the bond of Christian fellowship, the hurt from a brother or sister in Christ, whether intentional or not, is almost unbearable. King David brings insight and understanding through Psalm 55.
If an enemy were insulting me I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me I could hide from him.
But instead it is you, my equal, my companion, and close friend
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked together to the house of God.
Whatever the reason, the pain of rejection within the family of God is real and wounding. Rarely would be it intentional for one believer to hurt another, but I want to be aware of the possibility. May none of us be blinded or deceived to think we’re above inflicting that kind of pain. So I ask the Lord to help me value people. I ask for more love and more wisdom in reaching out to others. I ask to be the kind of friend who will help heal those kind of wounds in others.
Perhaps the personal pain I experienced is the very tool God is using to make me more sensitive to valuing others. Perhaps that’s the good the Lord works out from the bad. To beef up my love walk! To cause me to think before I speak! To put myself in the other person’s shoes before I form an opinion. To not throw anyone away. Maybe that alone is enough reason to keep my old and tattered address book…as a reminder that people are a treasure to be valued.