I apologize for not being more regular with my writing. My work with Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. keeps me pretty busy full time. I truly do miss my time writing and communing with you, my readers, and also reading the musings of my writing friends.
Perhaps the first rule of friendship is bearing with, and forgiving others when they don't measure up to our expectations or their own expectations??
That being said...let me delve into this subject...
I remember, vividly, heading down the highway from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in our white mini-van. The moving van had already started out ahead of us. Our children, ages 9 and 4, were watching (or more exactly) arguing over what movie to watch. It was a beautifully sunny, crisp, fall day in early September.
I remembered this stretch of highway from our whirlwind house hunting trip. As we neared Raleigh the highway was lined with nothing but beautiful pine trees. Anyone else would have thought, my this is gorgeous, but this city gal wondered where are the people? Is there civilization behind the forest of trees or will we be living a Daniel Boone lifestyle??
"See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared." (Exodus 23:20)
Soon, I was up to my eyeballs in moving boxes. I had successfully ushered my, thankfully, independent daughter off to her new fourth grade class in a new school. I remember thinking...what do I do now? Crying came to mind. Cary, the name of our new hometown, stood for Containment Area for Relocated Yankees. Where were the Yankees among all the Y'alls??
I realized it was just me and my 4 hear old son who was attached to my leg with velcro. But soon, Tyler, who would become my son's best friend was at my door. He stood there in his little bowl cut hair and asked if my son could play. I waved to his mom across the street and welcomed him in. Even my four year old had a friend...but what about me? Did I trust God's promise to prepare a place for Me?
I met Claire at a neighborhood coffee. Since it was a new development, we were all pretty new to the neighborhood. Before eating, she bowed her head quickly and silently in prayer. I saw immediately that she was a kindred spirit. We got to talking and discovered that our daughters were in the same grade at the nearby elementary school - perfect! They too, became fast friends and founders of the "Rodent Club" and lovers of all things Back Street Boys.
That day, God began a friendship, with my neighbor across the street, that continues twenty years later. Oh what a place God prepared for me and I am forever grateful.
God taught me many things about friendship through Claire and other friends I would make over these past 20 years....will you let me share a few??
* God knows we need friendship because the enemy seeks to isolate
and destroy us.
* God created us to need friends for fellowship and survival.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
* "Having" friends involves first, and foremost, "Being" a good friend.
Just as we are to be equally yoked in marriage, so are we to be
equally yoked in friendship. One friend should not continually pull
the other down or lift the other up. It's a balance.
The Bible teaches many things about friendship. I am so fortunate to have friends who embody and remind me of these principles every day. I am so grateful for Claire who reflected God's love to me in our friendship...after all isn't that what we are to be all about? Here are some scriptures that further define friendship...
1. Proverbs 12: 26 - Choose friends carefully as bad company corrupts good character.
2. Job 16:20-21 - Friends plead for one another in prayer. My friend is one of the best "prayer warriors" in intercessory prayer.
3. Proverbs 27:27 - "Iron sharpens iron"...We need someone to hold us accountable.
4. Proverbs 13:20 - Walk with the wise. Be with friends who are IN the Word. Word = Wisdom.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues PUT ON LOVE, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3: 12-14)
5. Proverbs 27:25-26 - A good friend is not afraid to rebuke you or call you to the mat regarding your behavior or attitude.
6. Proverbs 19:20 - Listen to and accept advice and discipline from a friend. A good friend tells me, in love, what I need to hear.
7. Proverbs 18:24 - A good friend sticks closer than a brother. Both of our families lived far away and we were each others "emergency contact".
8. 2 Kings 2:2 - A good friend will never leave you. We saw the good, the bad, and the ugly in each other, yet stayed close.
9. Job 2:11 - A friend sympathizes and comforts. We both had prodigal children and there was no judgment offered.
10.Proverbs 17:17 - "A friend loves at all times and is born for a time of adversity." When my OCD episodes flared, my friend jumped in to help me fold laundry, helped me clean, and made meals for my family.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father I have mad known to you. (John 15: 12-15)
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4)
11.We are friends with Jesus if we do what He commands. Jesus calls us friends and He makes known to us what God has made known to Him.
12.You can't be a friend of the world and a friend of God at the same time.
I am so very thankful for Claire, and for all of my friends who model to me the scriptural definition of a friend. I am thankful for friends whom I get to see in person, friends online, friends that are there though distance divides us, blogging friends, and friendships that are yet to be and friendships that were there for just a season.
God knows I need them all and I pray that I can return the gift of friendship that has been so graciously extended to me. So thankful that God continues to bring me to those places that He has so lovingly prepared.
I'm also thankful for the desert places in my life in which God said, "It's just you and me, kid." Often it is in the painful crucible of trials in which we truly develop our friendship with God. Oh what a friend I have in Jesus!!! Praise!
How about you? What are your friendships teaching you about the character of God? How can you be a better friend to others? Have friends abandoned you? Is Jesus calling you to run to His waiting arms? How do we "do" friendship with other fallen people?
Dear Heavenly Father, I am so thankful that you gave me, not only your Son who died for my sins, but the very best friend I could ever have - Jesus. I thank you that even though even the best of friends will let us down...You never let us down. You are true to your promise to never leave nor forsake me. Help me to be the type of friend I would like to have to others. Build up in me compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Help me to bear with others and forgive them. Let me be a true friend in Your power. Forgive me when my humanness breaks through. Humble my pride to ask a friend for forgiveness when needed. I ask all this in the wonderful name of Jesus. Amen.
Be blessed...this post dedicated to my friend, Claire, with whom I visited this week.
ps. Thank you, thank you to all who have been supporting Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.
Thank you to the anonymous donors who have sent Money Orders or who have named us in a Directed Giving fund, yet choose to remain anonymous. May God bless you.