13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. [NIV]
The book of Philemon is just one chapter long with only 25 verses. That makes it either an easy read... or a very powerful one. For me, it was the latter. Not so much because of that particular verse, but because of ones that followed it...
15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. [NIV]
This book was written by Paul to his friend Philemon to ask for leniency on a runaway slave, Onesimus, who had stolen from Philemon. It was a personal letter, and so one might wonder why it was included in the Bible. The letter conveys a message of failure, intercession, repentance, forgiveness and restoration... and it is that message that speaks to me so powerfully.
My life lately has been a lonely walk because of someone "in chains" ... literally and figuratively. The chains of addiction lead to the chains of imprisonment. I've spent a lot of time in prayer because of things that have happened to me ... and to him. For this particular book to come up in my 13th verse monthly rotation is not by coincidence... there are none.
Forgiveness is a powerful thing. It can heal and free... not just the person to whom it is given, but to the giver as well.