I came home recently after a busy day at work to find a small package with my name on it sitting on the table. I smiled as I noticed the sending address on it. It was from a special friend who I met over 20 years ago. Knowing I liked Chris Tomlin, she sent me a T-shirt printed with the title of one of his most popular songs, ‘Good Good Father‘. I felt so special, loved and thought of in that moment.
I began to reflect back over the years at our friendship and realized how God so purposefully placed her in my life many years ago. The years when we were both pregnant with our third child and when play dates were a welcomed break. The year we both grieved the loss of a parent. The times she taught me that you can find joy in the simplest of things like digging in dirt. And the random, yet timely text messages and songs encouraging me to choose joy and live out my faith.
God knew the ways He would use us to encourage and strengthen one another over the last twenty plus years. There is something uniquely special about the spiritual bond that is created through Christian friendship that transcends time and separation. I have come to realize that not only are true friendships rare, but they are a gift from God and a priceless treasure.
One thing I found to be true is that God arranges people to meet for different reasons in different seasons. God has used friends to help me grow into the person I am and to help remind me of Gods goodness and faithfulness. I think of the friend who encouraged me to step out in faith and the one who always refreshes my spirit with her wisdom and obedience. Or the one who taught me to live life to completion with courage, strength and grace through the greatest adversity. The friend who has literally walked miles with me through all kinds of weather. The one who rejoices with me when things are well and carries me to God in prayer when things aren’t so well. The one who prays bigger things for me than I pray for myself.
I like the way JR Miller describes friendship based on the scripture Mark 10:45: “a genuine friendship is entirely unselfish. It seeks no benefit of its own. It does not love – for what it may receive – but for what it may give. It’s aim is not to be served, but to serve.”
I believe this is the type of friend God calls us each to be. Though I strive to follow this model, I still fall short.
As I’ve studied the life of Jesus, I’ve learned that He is an example of what a perfect friend should be. He expects our best and calls us out when we need it, but He does it with love and grace. He sees our potential and only wants the best for us. He accepts us unconditionally and is always available, never too busy to meet our needs and listen. He is someone with whom we can share our fears, doubts, and joys because He wants to hear from us and cares. He is loyal, faithful and promises to never leave us.
Matthew 28:20 Amp- …. I am with you always( perpetually-regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion), even to the end of age.
Jesus has done what no other friend has done, He gave His life as a payment for our sins and now through Him we can be the recipient of the grace and love of God without measure.
John 15:13 Amp,- No one has greater love( nor stronger commitment) than to lay down his own life for his friends.
He excludes no one. He invites us all to partake in relationship and friendship with Him. No matter how special an earthly friend can be, they cannot meet life’s deepest needs like a friendship with Christ. Only in a Him can true satisfaction and peace be found.
I am grateful so for my relationship with my everlasting friend, Jesus, and for those special friends in my life who help to remind me of a Good Good Father. I pray that God will continually help me to imitate Jesus’ example of what a good friend is and that my friendships will be a means of experiencing more of Him and glorifying Him in the process.
Proverbs 18:24 ESV- A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Barb Stephen says
Cindy: I just read your piece on friendship and want you to know how much I enjoyed it. I’m so glad God is still working in you and guiding you on your walk with him. You’re a lovely person and I’m proud to know you. Hope you’re having a wonderfully blessed summer.