But this was a bit different.
It was to let me know it was someone’s birthday.
Someone who, quite honestly, I hadn’t even thought about since this time last year.
But a “friend” who, at one point, I worked and spoke with pretty much every day.
It got me to thinking; If I could so easily “forget” about this “friend” with whom I was once so close, until receiving a reminder that it was his birthday, who else have I not thought about or reached out to during these crazy times of quarantine isolation?
Proverbs 18:24 reads, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (NIV)
Oomph! This brings a lot of questions to my mind, including:
- Have I been an unreliable friend to my friend and, if so, to what end?
- I don’t have any brothers but do I have friends I’d consider closer than family…am I closer than family with some of my “brothers from other mothers?”
- What caused my friend to “drift” from my mind?
But this one’s got me thinking a bit. You see, this friend is from my past. And I’d like to think he could be a part of my future.
Then again, he isn’t really part of my present. And that’s because some things have changed. Since we last spent any significant or meaningful time together, my life has changed.
I’ve moved from the area in which I was living.
I’ve completely changed careers and become a pastor.
And I’m spending way less time in places we used to hang out, with the people we hung out with and much more time with my new co-workers, with the new things I do, and with my new bride and family.
Now you might be thinking, “C’mon, man, we all go through that. Things change…people change.” And you’re right.
And yet, as I say, this one’s gotten to me a little bit. I’m feeling that tug; that maybe I’m supposed to do something more than just reach out and say, “hey…”
That prodding to reach out for reconnection.
Scripture has a lot to say about friendship.
Some key verses call out to me in this time of conviction concerning my friend:
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10 (NIV), 9Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 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.
Job 6:14 (NIV), 14 “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV) 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Job 16:20-21(NIV) 20 My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; 21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend.
Proverbs 27: 5-6 (NIV) 5Better is open rebuke than hidden love. 6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
Proverbs 12: 26 (NIV) 26 The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Proverbs 13: 20 (NIV) 20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
Proverbs 27: 17 (NIV) 17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
It is said that if chosen right, our friends can be the greatest source of love, healing, joy, and encouragement. I believe this is true and am feeling like this is probably the kind of friend I need to be to my friend. When we were close, we’d talk about the subject of faith fairly frequently. We didn’t always agree, mind you, and I’m not really sure today where my friend stands. But, at one time, we talked about it. And lately, we’ve been silent. And that’s not feeling right.
One thought that’s rolling through my mind is that, truth be told, we probably run in different crowds these days.
But in this past weekend’s teaching at North Coast, we heard that, from the apostle Peter’s conversion (Acts 10), there are 3 key things we can learn and apply in our lives:
- If God is putting someone on our heart, He is probably working on their heart.
- God doesn’t just use angels and visions – he uses US!
- It is our job to share the good news of the Gospel with others.
- We can’t expect to walk in the Spirit until we are willing to walk where the Spirit leads.
- The Spirit hasn’t been given just to bless our lives but to change our lives. (2 Peter, 3:9)
- “I (we should) fear for the salvation of anyone who does not fear for the salvation of someone.”
- If we truly understand and receive God’s grace, then we are to share God’s grace.
Lord Jesus, Thank you for giving me such a vibrant community of friends to do life with. I praise you for the people you have blessed me with, the ones who have come alongside me to love, encourage, support, and uplift me through all the twists and turns of life. I’m so grateful that I do not have to go through life alone, but that you have shown me examples of your love through my dear friends. I pray that you would be present in my friendships, that you would be drawing us together in deeper community with one another toward greater unity with you. I pray that you would help heal any places of brokenness or discord in my friendships, and that you would restore any friendships that have fallen apart. Like your Word says in Colossians 3:12-13, may I clothe myself in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. May I be patient with my friends, and may I forgive freely like you have forgiven me. May I shine your light in my friendships, giving glory to you through all that I do, say, and think. Thank you for my friends, Jesus. Thank you for the ways they build me up and remind me of your goodness and faithfulness. In your name I pray, Amen
- Who (or what) have you more or less lost track of that God is putting on your heart in these moments?
- Who’s your crowd? When you consider your circle of friends, which ones are pushing you forward in your faith and toward God’s call on your life, and which are not?
- What are some changes you could make to cultivate the kinds of friendships that preserve your life spiritually?
- What would it look like for you to make and invest more time and energy in finding ways to introduce others to Jesus?