Have I told him lately that I love him?

The words of the song, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You,” are ringing in my head. Though the song is for sweethearts, the words are haunting me in a different way.

Have I, as a member of your church, told you, as my pastor (lately or ever), that I love you and thank you for all you are and do? A more nagging question is, Have I said anything to help smooth out the rough spots you encounter day in and day out? Have I done anything to give you a boost? Have I ministered to you?

Last Sunday, just before you were to go into the pulpit, our eyes met and I said, “Talk ‘purty.’ ” How pathetic of me. You were within minutes of probably the most difficult sermon of your ministry and my flippant words could not have told you that I understood, I cared—that I thought it was wonderful that you had brought to fulfillment your prayer to bring together two congregations hostile toward each other over a vicious church split many years before you came to us. You were entering the pulpit to bring a loving message of reconciliation to people who had taken separate ways, some of whom carried bitter hatred. Couldn’t I have said that I appreciate your healing ministry—that I admired your courage?

If I were to say, “I’m sorry,” you would say, “For what?” You overlook our shortcomings and see more good in us than is there. Maybe that’s a part of your deep understanding of grace. You continue to love people when they block the path. You maintain a beautiful spirit in spite of obstacles, disappointments, and discouragement.

A newcomer mentioned to me that in your own church people don’t seem to know you for the great minister you are recognized to be throughout the nation. “The prophet is not without honor ...

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