One of my all-time best friends and mentors is Paul, the apostle. We’ve spent a lot of time together. His words have invaded my thoughts for decades. His letters are frequently a major source of encouragement to me. He’s down to earth and ridiculously honest.
Mostly, though, I am challenged by his heart. Just this morning, I read something he wrote, something that once again convicted me. “But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face.” (1 Thessalonians 2:17). I love that. He said, “We were torn away from you … in person not in heart.” His physical body was removed from among them, but his heart remained there.
Keep in mind that this isn’t some wimpy guy. This is the Apostle Paul, who frequently stood up to violent mobs, who was stoned and left for dead, who unflinchingly faced angry opponents, who was beaten and whipped. This was no mama’s boy. Paul was definitely a man’s man. He regularly stood confidently in the face of serious danger.
Yet, he frequently longed to be with those he loved. The ones he had nurtured and encouraged had gained an undeniable place in Paul’s heart, and he was not ashamed to let them know it. His love and compassion clearly ran deep, and he was fearless in proclaiming that love and compassion.
I want a heart like that, a heart that cares intensely and is unafraid to say it or show it.