Day 38 - Facing the past

Read: Philemon 12

THEME: Living up to a name can be hard work. All it takes is for someone, maybe even ourselves, to set a target that makes us feel incompetent. Our role-model for turning this around is a runaway servant named Onesimus.

Onesimus was thriving in Rome, enjoying his fellowship with Paul and doing all he could to ease the challenges Paul faced under house arrest. It was a great setting in which to grow but for a runaway servant it was still an escapist environment. One day Onesimus would have to face the pain of his past, not just the pain he had felt himself in leaving, but the pain his departure had inflicted on others.

Paul in his wisdom had waited whilst he had seen Onesimus grow in confidence and discover his true usefulness. He had allowed him to become established in his new life, treating him as a brother and fellow believer. The day came, though, when Paul recognised that Onesimus was strong enough to face the return journey and Paul was prepared to do everything possible to help.

Many under house arrest would have felt paralysed but Paul was never one to be bound by his chains. He had continued to preach. Crowds were impossible, but one-to-one was ideal. He had continued to pray, and his prayer meetings were powerfully informed by well-travelled emissaries from caring churches. And he had continued to write, so he took up his pen and wrote to Philemon, Onesimus’s employer.

There are ways of supporting those who are having to face their past.

‘Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.’