Over the last month I have been sweetly reminded of the beautiful gift of abiding friendship. It’s more than the casualness of a click of the button to “like” or “follow” an unfamiliar face, though this is how it may initially begin. It’s more than a cursory glance or momentary, ” Hello,” with little heartfelt involvement.
Friendships are about staying the course…about battling the storms of this life together, about loving deeply even when it is inconvenient or calls for the sacrifice of self.
No, deep and abiding friendships choose to stay even when things are hard and ugly. It is born in that moment when vulnerability gives way to freedom and acceptance. When something happens in the heart and there is safety, comfort, and trust. It’s when love is chosen over judgment and forgiveness over bitterness.
Friendships become a matter of choice. When friends choose time over doing, to gather for a meal, and laughter makes the heart feel lite. It’s when fellowship happens binding souls together. This is the blessing called friendship which is more than a “click.”
It’s when news from halfway around the world comes in the form of answered prayer jointly whispered. It’s expressed when a friend drops all things in her day to come along side and shares a cry over a burden of the heart. It’s in the form of those committed glances from My Beloved Sweetheart when no words can be spoken. It’s when hearts are irreversibly knit together, yielding to a beautifully crafted work of art only the Masterful Designer could create.
Deep, abiding friendships choose to suffer in the privilege of prayer for another when no words are the balm for an aching heart. When the pure sweetness, with unrestrained laughter, of a daughter gives the gift of, ” I love you, Mama.” It is when no guarded walls are erected for fear of rejection. Yes, this is the friendship that is so much more than a “click.”
To have these few,
bring such a richness to this life that
no temporal gift can ever satisfy.
They are small reflections of the One so much greater than ourselves.
And yet, as much as we try, the human heart fails and fails again, for none of us in this lifetime is perfect in full completion. We have all been born into this ugliness called sin which will always breed the darkness of separation.
But, there is One, Jesus, who says He will forever stick closer than a brother. He is the Promise Keeper who will never leave my side or forsake me for another. He will not fail in His involvement in every aspect of my life. He will remain faithful even when I am utterly faithless.
Surely, it must have been beyond words for Adam and Eve, before the fall of sin, in Eden, this garden of true beauty, where they experienced perfect friendship with their Creator. A relationship fully satisfying, but lovingly allowed free will. A relationship blackened by the enemy who was threatened by this friendship, and driven by the cruelty of temptation and sin. It was Adam and Eve’s choice to turn their back, on their One and only friend, to follow self will and fleshy desires.
And yet, this God of love sought to make man the friend of God once more.
He gave all to redeem, at the greatest cost to Himself, making a cancellation of my permanently separated life, to one of forgiveness and grace, through the power of the cross.
It is this God who hangs the world on nothing, who calls the galaxies of stars each by name, who commands the four corners of the winds out of His storehouses and yet desires to call each one of those who choose to follow Him, the friend of God.
* The Friend of a Holy God! *
Let that sink in for a moment! It is this God who chooses to call His followers, friends, who has made the way to know His true friendship, and reflect it into the life of another human being.
Can we begin to fathom the depth of this kind of love and sacrifice? How can we not fully be satisfied with the greatest of all companions to walk beside us, and not only be our friend, but show us how this kind of friendship is to be lived out?
How can we not express, in some small way, His meaning of friendship, when He so freely pours it out undeservedly on us? How can we not shower our friends with some form of this love and grace?
And yet, if we only love those who love us what good is that?
For Jesus has also said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:43-45a
For He truly gives the greatest example of what it means to be called friend.
No, the beauty of the gift of friendship is farther,
so infinitely farther,
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”