Dear Making Space for God friends, today is a follow up on last week’s blog, Look Up Not Down. One of my good friends was describing how she and her husband had been through a frightening and difficult time recently and when she had difficulty looking up to God, her friends helped her to look up; her friends called, sent cards, reached out in tangible ways. So she shared with us that when we can’t look up because the pain is too great, or our hearts are broken, the arms of the cross reach out. Our friends, who love us, are those arms. And then she said something profound:
I would rather eat broccoli with my friends than eat ice cream by myself.
I have thought of her words all week. How true. Friends can be Jesus with skin on, helping us when we can’t help ourselves; leading us to the Lord when we can’t do so ourselves, giving us hope when we are hopeless.
So let me ask you a question this morning. Have you made space in your lives for friendships? I have discovered that in this fast-paced world, we are neglecting this very important part of our lives. We have FaceTime on our phones, but we don’t have real face time with our friends. We may have 100+ friends on Facebook and not one real friend in real life. We may have people commenting on our Instagram pictures but we don’t even know them. Now don’t get me wrong. Facebook, Instagram, etc. are fun connectors. They simply are not a substitute for real friends in real time.
Years ago when I lived in Germany, I was struggling with loneliness. I had three small children, the language barrier, and my husband was at work while I stayed home with the children. I was invited to join a Bible study and only German was spoken in the study. At first, I wondered why bother? I still felt alone, only able to speak a few words in German. But God… used that time to teach me that true fellowship is about the ministry of presence. Though I could not carry on a conversation with my new friends, we studied the Word together and the found this our common ground. I was encouraged in their fellowship and I learned the value of connection.
As children, we may have cultivated friendships based on wanting to be popular, following the crowd, wanting to be a part of something. But as we grow into adulthood the need for authentic relationship grows. As Christians, we are called to live authentically building up one another in Christ. Relationships formed around this common goal are ones that transcend time; they are forever. Our mutual love for Christ draws us into community that is transparent and deep.
My friend who was suffering, taught me something when she said the following:
When I could not look up, my friends reached out and helped me look up.
This is the kind of friend I want to be; one that encourages others and leads them back to Christ. He is their hope and anchor. I am just the vessel to help them get back home.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do but encouraging one another… (Hebrews 10:25)