I was sitting by a hospice bed set up in dining room of a friend’s house. The frail, pale woman lying on the bed had once been a beautiful, vivacious wife and mother.
She was dying bravely. Her face was calm and peaceful but there was grief in her eyes. She was going to miss so much. But she was longing for Heaven even so.
I was friends with the woman in the bed, but the truth was, I was really there to support the other healthy woman sitting beside her stroking her straggly cancer ravaged hair. The woman losing her beloved friend was my closest friend and fellow pastors’ wife at our church. As I sat there taking in this tragic scene, I couldn’t help but whisper “Help us Jesus.”
Love is work…
The older I get and farther down the ministry path I go, the more I realize what a refuge and privilege a true friend is. This mystery of two hearts knit together in Christ is unexplainable to those who don’t know Him. It begins as a little seed of appreciation and by doing life together, the good and the bad, it begins to grow into real Spirit-given love.
I have only a few really close friends. I’m naturally introverted and fiercely private. But I have a deep love for God’s people as well as for those who have yet to meet Him. And, when I’m in step with the Spirit, I tend to see those around me according to the preciousness of their souls. Isn’t that what true friendship is? It’s communing with the Holy as He uses you as a vessel of love to the world.
Yet in my flesh, I wish friendship wasn’t so costly. It demands vulnerability, time, loyalty, and truth. But this work never returns empty, right? Even in pettiness, raw nerves and betrayal, friendship and love always bear fruit. Whether it’s in pain, bringing wisdom or in joy bringing giggles, or in a quiet whispered prayer for mercy at a sickbed the payoff is there and worth the cost.
Friendship like any form of love is work. And work is messy. But it is also rewarding. How are you investing your seed of friendship?
Think about your friends today. How can you love them? Here are some great places to roll up your sleeves and be intentional:
- Make time for lunches, coffee, and girl’s nights. Have fun.
- Get involved in a small group for prayer and Bible Study in which you are not in charge.
- Use your social media to speak encouragement and care for others.
- Remember special days like birthdays.
- Serve together in ministry. Nothing bonds you like working together for a cause.
- Let people help you and be vulnerable.
- Bear burdens in prayer. Ask God for His favor in their lives.
- Speak truth
- Keep confidences
- Deflect and avoid drama
- Show up with a meal or a helping hand in times of trouble
- Be winsome and have a kind word or compliment. Make eye-contact. Be quick to greet and speak to strangers as you go about your life.
- Say thank you and show appreciation freely.
What are some ways your friends support you and your ministry? Are you lonely? Be a friend.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend. — Proverbs 27:9
Published February 16, 2015