It's a cliché, tried and true: "We don't miss it till it's gone." Of course we don't; if we still have it, we can't miss it. We can however, take it for granted. I'm pretty much an introvert. I don't mind alone time; in fact, I thrive on it. But even the introvert was made in the image of the triune God whose very nature is fellowship. A few years ago, I slowly drifted away from the area pastor's prayer gathering. At times, it just didn't feel like a good fit for me, and I had become involved in a mentoring relationship that was very fulfilling, and met at the same time as the prayer group.
I was still in active pastoral ministry at the time, and had many opportunities to engage other pastors, but then I retired. It took awhile for the ripple effect of retirement to hit the shores of my introversion, but I began to realize that there is still a pastoral part of me inside that was starving. I needed time with other pastors. I hadn't realized it at the time, but I was neglecting a Scriptural command I've preached about many times. It's Hebrews 10:25; "Don't neglect gathering yourselves together as is the practice of some, but encourage one another..." When it comes to weekly worship, I'm spot on with this, but I had a huge blind spot when it came to encouraging my fellow pastors. You see, this Scriptural command isn't just about my need for encouragement, but also about my need to be an encourager. I was doing it one-on-one, but had completely missed the boat with my colleagues.
The Bible has a way of cutting through to the heart of the matter, exposing the hypocrisies we aren't even aware of. I'm grateful that God doesn't give up on us when in our blindness we miss the plain Word of God. It was good to be back. I'm sure there will be times I chafe against it, but I need the iron sharpening iron that happens when men of God get together. And amazingly enough, they need me.