Priceless

Yesterday I had a phone conversation with someone who has been my friend for almost 50 years.

It’s not unusual for us to talk to each other, even when separated by hundreds of miles. Through the years we have talked on a regular basis.

After all these years we don’t have to build up to talking about important matters. We can just dive right into the deep waters.

Through the years we have talked each other through a lot of life’s ups and downs.

Since that conversation I’ve been thinking about how wonderful it is to have a friend you can trust implicitly.

Priceless. Just priceless.

IRL Friendships

Studies conclude having a few real friendships plays a big role in our happiness. Social media threatens the establishment and nurturing of real friendships. On social media people craft an image of who they want to be rather than who they really are. Real friendships are not based on image, they are based on reality. Thankfully, we do not have to put on a show for the acceptance of real friends, or the acceptance of God. Let’s be real.

Burden Bearing, Burden Sharing

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Compared to many people I know, my life has been relatively uneventful. However,  throughout the course of my life I have had some difficult days.

I have had burdens to bear.

Sometimes my burdens have resulted from my being caught up in sin. At different times my burdens have been the result of others being caught up in sin.

Sometimes the burdens have been easy enough to manage. At different times the burdens have been heavy, almost unbearable.

At all times God has been faithful.

At all times Christian brothers and sisters have been right there with me to help carry the load.

As I remember those who have walked beside me and helped carry my burdens, I am reminded that others have burdens, too.

Sometimes their burdens are easy to manage. At different times their burdens are heavy, almost unbearable.

Sometimes their burdens are the result of their sin. At different times their burdens are the result of my sin.

At all times God is faithful to them. The question is, am I?

Am I willing to walk alongside someone who is hurting?

Am I willing to help carry their burdens?

As I ponder this passage I realize I have much for which to be thankful. And I regularly have burden carrying opportunities.

What I need to remember, what we all need to remember, is that carrying burdens for each other is exactly how God wants us to live our lives.

_______________________________________

Loving God,
Thank you for providing burden bearers for me.
Forgive me when I burden others by sinning against them.
Forgive me when I am too tired or disinterested to carry burdens not my own.
Empower me to live out your law by bearing burdens.
Your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.
In the name of Jesus,
AMEN

Spiritual Friendships

“Spiritual friendships provide a shelter in which the consequences of Adam’s fall can be reversed. Spiritual friendships are possible between persons committed to grow in the knowledge and love of Christ, and ascend by degrees until the friends are made one in heart and soul with Christ….Christ is friendship’s pattern, laying down His life for friends. Spiritual friendship is bought by love and won by competition in generosity. Its currency of exchange is counsel in perplexity, consolation in adversity, prayer without ceasing, empathetic identification in grief and shame as much as in honor and joy. Spiritual friendship is grounded in trustworthiness, which allows candor in confession and criticism, and opens a safe place for secrets to be aired. It begins with the good, progresses among the better, is consummated among the perfect. In advanced stages, it crosses over from mere virtue to spiritual zeal, to a resurrection of the spiritual senses, to shared intimacy with God. In the world to come, all friends of Christ will be friends of one another, so that God will be all in all.”
— Marilyn McCord Adams in Christ and Horrors: the coherence of Christology

Thanks to my daughter, Laura, for making me aware of this quote.

Close to Home

My dear friend Chris Nicola stands beside his car that was damaged when the tornadoes targeted Jackson and the Union University campus. Thankfully Chris was hunkered down in a classroom and was not injured.
Not only is Chris a dear brother in Christ, he is also a life-long fan of The University of Southern California Trojans! Fight on!
Yesterday I drove by some areas of Jackson I had not seen since the storm. The damage is widespread. Some of the most beautiful trees around, huge trees that must be over 100 years old, were just knocked over like toothpicks.
Behold the power of a tornado!

Spiritual Friendship

“Being a spiritual friend is being the physician of a wounded soul. And what does a physician do when someone comes with a bleeding wound?

Three things: He or she cleanses the wound, aligns the sundered parts, and gives it rest. That’s all. The physician does not heal. He or she provides an environment for the dominant natural process of healing to take its course . . . . an environment for the birthing and nourishing of a whole soul.”

Tilden H. Edwards
in Spiritual Friend: Reclaiming the Gift of Spiritual Direction, p. 125