Tag Archives: friendship

Dark Ransom

Romans 12:2 tells us, “2Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind.  As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.”  (Voice)

Yesterday was a – flipped out crazy, what in the world, altered state of reality – type day.  Traffic was insanely slow and doubled my commute time.  When I arrived at work, I entered back to back meetings with folks who seemed to have talking points suitable for agendas different than the topics for the meetings I attended.  Their words were in a language I could understand but always seemed a bit off center and quickly warbled onto remote tangents or down unrelated rabbit holes.  I constantly wondered if I had fallen out of bed in my sleep the night before, bumped my head, and lost my entire mind because I was unable to mend the continuous disconnect I experienced all day.

It was late in the evening when I left work.  I was low on fuel and veered from my normal route to find a filling station.  Rather than making a series of turns across heavy traffic to get back to the highway, I took some faintly familiar back roads to my neighborhood.  The streets were winding and were speckled with stop signs, speed bumps, and other traffic control devices.  It was very dark outside and the pathways were dimly lighted.  I had to slow down drastically as though I was “feeling” my way home.  God then said, “‘feeling’ your way through things is sometimes where I want you.  When you think too much, you can become arrogant and self-reliant.  That disconnect you experienced was analogous to temporary separation from Me.  This day is an example of the inanity that is created when you run around on your own energy.  But, ‘feel’ where you are right now.  Your heart is not beating out of the side of your neck and you are not scrambling to decipher the chaos that is surrounding you.  This slow meandering drive that you are on now is illustrative of what it is like to be led and fed by Me.  You see, your sight can be blinding to you, causing you to race from one fleeting bit of unseen stimulation to the next.  But when you ‘feel’ your way through, you are placing your hand in Mine and are allowing Me to guide you to where I know you belong.  Right now I need you to be in a relaxed state of mind because I want you to be a mouthpiece for my message.”

Just then, my mobile phone rang.  It was my girlfriend who called to ask me for prayer.  She explained that she has a loved one who is mired down in youthful fumbling and through a continuous series of unfortunate events, can’t seem to stand up unassisted, let alone walk on a straight path.  My girlfriend said she has come along side this relative before and provided money to help patch the holes and bail the rising water on this young person’s challenging path.

I began asking secular questions about the loved one.  God then said, “Pssssst!  Just open your mouth and let me speak through you.  Stop searching for your next set of thoughts.  Remember, we are “feeling”, not thinking.  It is reliance, not reasoning.”  I took a deep breath and started listening.  My girlfriend explained that the loved one is a young mother who is being evicted and has no support system.  The circumstances are such that once she loses her apartment, she and her baby will be separated as there is no place for them to go together.

The words that then came out of my mouth were not my own.  This is what was spoken through me: “We live in a broken world and when we hit rock bottom, we are an icky, sticky, yucky mess.  It is very easy to stand back and throw money at the cataclysmic heap from a distance.  But you are being called to dig deep and give of yourself; not to reach into your pockets to give what you can easily do without.  Sometimes, when we are standing on the edge facing the deep end of the pool, the idea of jumping in can be daunting.  It can seem like it would be easier if someone would just push us.  But that is not Jesus’ way.  He only wants the willing, not the loathed.  This is called freedom in Christ.  Choose what you will do according to what has been placed on your heart.  I will always love you and so will He.”

My girlfriend and I hung up.  I looked up and thanked God for the countless lessons and blessings He gave me yesterday.  I pondered over the experience that He: 1.) allowed me to go through yesterday so it would 2.) Open my eyes to see the picture He painted for me to prepare me 3.) To be used by Him 4.) So He could speak through me, yet 5.) Show me how much I still need Him.  Then Casting Crowns Voice of Truth played in my head, Oh what I would do to have the kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I’m in, onto the crashing waves; to step out of my comfort zone to the realm of the unknown where Jesus is and He’s holding out his hand.  But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me; reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed.  The waves they keep on telling me, time and time again, “Boy, you’ll never win!”  “You’ll never win!”  Last night, I prayed for my girlfriend.  I prayed that she would find peace in knowing that she heard His gentle invitation in His voice to be the love.  I prayed that she would see the way He is showing her to His precise calling and that she would eagerly follow the path He lays before her, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem.  Oh what I would do to have the kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant with just a sling and a stone; surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors shaking in their armor, wishing they’d have had the strength to stand. 

I know she is still wrestling with God, seeking clarity for precisely how He wants her to answer His call to action.  But she recognized His voice and is being drawn into Him to be the love for someone else.  But the voice of truth tells me a different story and the voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”  And the voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”.  Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

He is my witness that I have been at similar crossroads; a place where He was asking me to give sacrificially, not just easily.  Sacrifice is the act of giving up something you want to keep while easy is something that requires little effort, thought or reflection.  God gave us His one and only son and presented Himself to us in a form we could recognize and accept.  Before we can follow Him, we are called to count the cost, a ransom He paid sacrificially yet willingly, to save our lives.

I will remain prayerful as my girlfriend works through this with God.  I am sure He will show her His will and she will freely choose courageous obedience.  It is such a privilege to watch her answer His gentle invitation.  As someone who extended her hand to such a reluctant receiver as me, I am eternally grateful to God for slowing me down enough to be touched by her.  I am thankful that He brought me through such an incredible experience with her and for blessing me with our friendship.

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers.  In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart.  But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances.  A secret master of ceremonies has been at work.  Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.”  The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out.  It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.” – C.S. Lewis

Beloved, My Friend

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart. – Helen Keller

Looking someone in the eyes right now does not necessarily tell you the story of what it took for them to arrive in front of you.  Nor does it tell you about their struggles or baggage.  As believers we are called to meet them where they are and love them as they are.  Sometimes, it is their brokenness and their willingness to share their challenges that allows them to shine the light that lets so many others see the way to Him.  Sometimes they are as lost and confused as the next person, but a seed of goodness in their heart opens up underneath the warmth of what was left by the last person they encountered.  She passed along the comfort of the care to the next person that had previously been given to her because she remembered how good it felt.  He was patient and kind because someone was that way towards him yesterday.  One sitting on the up side of down and the other standing on the down side of up.  Both reckoned with the emotion of the basement yet pursuing the sensation of the penthouse.  Neither understanding the blessings of balance that they received and then gave in those short moments.  How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in peace!  2 It is like the finest oils poured on the head, sweet-smelling oils flowing down to cover the beard, Flowing down the beard of Aaron, flowing down the collar of his robe.  3 It is like the gentle rain of Mount Hermon that falls on the hills of Zion.  Yes, from this place, the Eternal spoke the command, from there He gave His blessing—life forever.  (Psalm 133 – VOICE)

The freedom ride on the path that leads to the cross was never intended to be walked alone.  God sends many souls our way to meet us at specific points along our journey.  Some are fleeting spirits that dust us with a blessing and then quickly move on.  Some are there for a longer season while others are stalwart companions up the hills, through the curves, down in the valleys, around the bends, in the creeks, and on the mountaintops.  Through life, friends may come and go, but to have a lifelong, close, personal friendship is truly a great blessing.  A true friendship that stands the test of trials and time is rare.  As we focus on Him and love them deeply and closely, God delivers balance in our lives with these blessings; these lifelong friends.  So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well.  Learn to love appropriately.  You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush.  Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.  Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG)  As Celine Dion says in Because You Loved Me: You were my strength when I was weak.  You were my voice when I couldn’t speak.  You were my eyes when I couldn’t see. You saw the best there was in me.  Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach.  You gave me faith ‘coz you believed.  I’m everything I am because you loved me. 

Most weekends are not complete without a thought-provoking conversation with an intimate friend who has walked many miles, hand-in-hand, with me on my journey.  This weekend was no different.  We exchanged honorable greetings, shared the week’s trials and triumphs, and released our momentary embrace with the utmost love and care.

We met as two wandering souls and have endured as two kindred spirits.  Through all that life has brought us, (hard conversations, encouraging words, thankful praises, as well as sleepless nights full of prayer) we have remained attached at the hips and always there for one another.  We have grown up as we have grown together.

The Bible gives us a great example of the generational impact an intimate friendship can have.  1 Samuel chapters 18-20 tells us a story of two people who had a special fondness for one another.  They were closer than many siblings, confiding and trusting each other.  They were friends who shared hopes and dreams.  They remained close, even when separated, through the good times and the bad.  Through thick and thin, neither one deserted the other.  18 1By the time David had finished speaking to Saul, Saul’s son Jonathan was bound to David in friendship, and Jonathan loved David as he loved himself… 3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as he loved himself.  4 He took off the robe he wore and gave it to David, and also his armor, sword, bow, and belt.  20 41And then they kissed one another and wept, friend over friend, David weeping especially hard.  42 Jonathan said, “Go in peace! The two of us have vowed friendship in God’s name, saying, ‘God will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever!’”  “For all those times you stood by me; for all the truth that you made me see; for all the joy you brought to my life; for all the wrong that you made right; for every dream you made come true; for all the love I found in you; I’ll be forever thankful baby.  You’re the one who held me up; never let me fall.  You’re the one who saw me through, through it all.”  The commentary in chapter 19 of the VOICE translation tells us, “In the friendship between Jonathan and David, Jonathan stands to lose everything he has if David becomes king, yet he betrays family and ambition by befriending him. These two young men make a pact to protect and love each other in life; and if something should happen to Jonathan, David agrees to honor Jonathan’s descendants out of the love he bears for Jonathan. Later that promise results in David elevating one of Jonathan’s sons to the king’s table.”

On our journey, we have been through a great many things.  Our experience is an ambition of giving that causes each to receive in abundance.   Through it all, we have learned that shared pain is half the pain and shared joy is twice the joy.  We encourage each other as friends to have:

  1. A spirit of courage
  2. A heart of perseverance
  3. A timeless bond and
  4. An unfailing love

She is my David.  I want her to know that she has a faithful Jonathan beside her,  to remember that her Lord is with her, and to believe that her Savior lives in her.  She is in a battle of epic proportion.  As she faces this behemoth Goliath and the wrath of Saul, my prayer for her is that she always remembers to pray and never forgets who she is or whose she is.  May she feel the favor God has offered and have faith to know He will continue to see her through.  May she continue to fight the good fight in the face of evil, doing good despite the chips being down.  His people are with her.  His prayer warriors are around her.  She is not alone.  She is loved.  She is my friend.  You gave me wings and made me fly.  You touched my hand, I could touch the sky.  I lost my faith, you gave it back to me.  You said no star was out of reach.  You stood by me and I stood tall.  I had your love.  I had it all.  I’m grateful for each day you gave me.  Maybe I don’t know that much, but I know this much is true: I was blessed because I was loved by you. 

And so I ask you: Who is your David?  Are you a faithful Jonathan?  Who is walking along side you?  When facing your Goliath, who do you turn to?  Are you on this path alone?  Where are you looking for those God-honoring relationships?  What are your best and most beautiful things?  Can you feel them with your heart?  Be the love!  8 People who won’t settle down, wandering hither and yon, are like restless birds, flitting to and fro.  9 Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.  10 Don’t leave your friends or your parents’ friends and run home to your family when things get rough; better a nearby friend than a distant family. Proverbs 27:8-10 (MSG)