“Goin’ Visitin'”

"David and Jonathan," by Rembrandt. ...

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Today’s message title refers to what people here in the southern churches have always held as a highly regarded tradition. When a church member gets sick and is hospitalized, people visit them and do their best to encourage them. Many pastors and staff members of the church do this all the time, in some cases, churches even have visitation teams that do these things where the pastors can continue focussing on building the best church that they can for the glory of God. I will admit, when Jessica, my wife, was in the hospital, I became a little internally bitter over the “lack” of visitors she received. Then I thought back on the people who had visited, and wrote them off as family and friends instead of church family and church friends, or brothers and sisters in the family of Christ.

The truth is, two long time friends of the family are also my church’s visitation team leaders. Our old small group friends all showed up, for the most part. Some were friends, some where family. Even friends of ours from the past came out to show support for Jessica and Christian (my son). Our senior pastor visited once and prayed with my uncle over Jess. Our youth and family ministries pastor called me a few times, one of which was more help than he knows due to the timing. Our children’s pastor/administrative director came and prayed with the family, this visit was especially pleasant because whether she knows it or not I view her as one of my mentors. Our evangelism director contacted me on Facebook, and our then staff blogger did as well. All of these meant a ton, during this I was absent from our music department naturally, and a special prayer for all of us took place in the middle of a practice. My bitterness was not directed at any real thing or person, it was Satan trying to get the best of my mind in a troubling time.

I imagine David felt the same way those thousands of years ago when King Saul forced him into exile. This very David who was a living legend among his people for slaying the giant Goliath, for being a musical genius, and a genuine lover of his people and his God was cast out by the very King that he had worked so diligently to support on and off the battlefields. David received a visitor one day, and what was spoken, why it was spoken, and how it was spoken is not mentioned. Whether or not they said a prayer together is not known either. But Jonathan, the very crowned prince of the King who had exiled David, visited his friend to show his support in his time of deep despair.

One day near Horesh, David received the news that Saul was on the way to Ziph to search for him and kill him. Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.”  So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the Lord. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh.  1 Samuel  23:15-18

Even while his father was on the prowl to murder David out of pride and jealousy, his son risked everything to comfort his friend and show his support. He risked his very crown for his friend’s well-being. I can think of someone else who surrendered his crown for a friend, well, friends and children. Jesus gave up everything, he gave up living in the luxuries of Heaven to come here to begin with! I envision Jesus taking off his crown, walking into the throne room of Heaven, and saying “Father, I know it is time. I am ready.” Once on Earth he made close and dear friends. He had a family consisting of multiple brothers and sisters. He had a following of thousands upon thousands of loyal and devoted disciples of Christ. He had his inner circle of his best friends, the twelve Apostles. Yet for you and me, long before we were born or our blood lines as we know them even were a figment of anyone’s imagination, as well as every other human being who would ever live on this Earth, living in lifestyle’s that he despises, living in the sins of the flesh that reject him, every single one.

Jonathan risked it all for a friend, and Jesus himself gave all for his beloved. We know that David would go on to become arguably the greatest leader the world has ever known. A great, noble, warrior-king. Most of the music we sing and hear being sang every week in every church in the world is because of David in one way or another. Who knows if David would have stayed faithful to God during his worst days of this unjust exile if it were not for Jonathan goin’ visitin’. Today you may have a friend that could really use a word or two of encouragement. While an email, a text, or a phone call is only an inch away, maybe the need is greater, and like Jonathan, you feel like you should make the travel from A to B to see and support your friend. If that is the case, I encourage you to do so. You never know how much one tiny little visit, like the ones Jessica, Christian, & I received while they were in the hospital can mean to someone. How much it can encourage someone.

God Bless,

Chris

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