Among God’s best gifts to us are the people who love us.
Today I read the following from John 15…
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other
I love those verses in John, because Jesus calls us FRIEND!! Did you see that or did you breeze right over it? Go back and read it again…I’ll wait.
He talks about friendship in three separate places and in two of them refers to us as his friends. Wow…those are such beautiful and soothing words for my soul!
To be called someone’s friend means that we’re an asset in that person’s life – that our friendship brings a special value. It’s obvious that Jesus, as our friend, is a huge asset to our lives. But that means that we (you and me) are an asset to Jesus’ life as well! Friendship works in both directions.
Of course, the difference in our earthly friendships is that we can see each other in a physical sense. We don’t always feel that sort of connection in our relationship with Jesus. There have been times when I feel so alone and think that no one will understand my troubled heart and the only friend I want to be with is Jesus. I’ll cry out, “I just want to see you! I want to have a face-to-face with you!” Sometimes it’s, “Where are you? I can’t feel you there and I really NEED to see you!”
I am truly blessed to have such a large circle of friends in my life and I cherish every single friend that I have, but there are these two friends, in particular, who have really come to know me. I mean…they really really know me! We pretty regularly write notes back and forth to each other throughout the week. Sometimes we have really deep discussions, or sometimes it’s just silly stuff like sending some dumb jokes or a quick “this cracked me up and reminded me of you!” Sometimes it’s just to say, “Hey! Hope you’re having a good day!” or if it’s been a few days since we’ve heard from each other, “Hey! Are you out there somewhere?” We often share our lists of “all the things I’ve got going on this week,” or we make plans to actually get together for a dinner, or a movie, or hey…shopping!!
I always love hearing from my nearest and dearest, but the e-mails that, without-fail-hands-down, amaze me the most are the ones where they can “just tell” that something is wrong. Where they just sense that I’m just not doing very well that day.
We’re talking…in an e-mail!! I can just be having an off day and will write something that I think is on the cheery side (sounds good to me!)…but there’s just something in there that they find as a trigger and I will undoubtedly receive a message that says, “What’s wrong?”
And as much as I love to hear from them, there are times when I really just don’t want to talk about it, so I’ll just write something simple back to them, “Nothing’s wrong. Everything is a-ok!” Maybe even adding a little smiley face 🙂 just for good measure. (Gotta keep it cheery so they’ll believe me, ya’ know?!)
Like I said before, sometimes I just don’t want to talk about it. Sometimes I just want to wallow in it for a while, or maybe it seems like such a small thing that I’m making something big out of and I’m embarrassed to reveal just how shallow I can be.
But, true to the friendship, they don’t let up…”I can tell something is wrong…you just don’t sound like yourself.”
That just cracks me up!! I don’t ‘sound’ like myself? To think that they know me so well that they can see a difference in my e-mail, not only makes me laugh, but warms my heart. What good friends.
Eventually…they bring it out of me and we have a few little e-mails back and forth that end up being my therapy session for the day. And honestly, those ‘therapy’ sessions always give me the wisdom, encouragement, motivation and LOVE that I need to carry on.
And while I may not like it at the time, the really cool thing is that they don’t always agree with me. Yes, you read that right! Sometimes I’ll rant on and on and I’ll expect to get something back saying, “Oh, you poor thing…I totally understand and agree with everything you said.” But, thankfully, I will more often get a note back that says, “I’m glad you got that off your chest but now it’s time for you to pull it together and regroup.” Haha…don’t you just love it?! Then they fill me with good spiritual advice and encouragement to get over it and get on with things. Ah…isn’t friendship wonderful?
I can even recall a few telephone calls with one of my friends, where all I had uttered from my mouth was “Hello?” and she said, “What’s wrong?!” “Good grief!” I said, “…all I said was ‘hello!’” But her response… “I can just tell something’s wrong. So, what’s up?”
Now, remember earlier when I said how I often cry out and say, “Where are you?! I need you!” “I need to see you face-to-face!”
I believe he’s right there. Right there in front of me…face-to-face…in the hearts of my friends. We often pray….”I want people to see Jesus in me.” Friends, that’s where I see him the most – he’s in my friendships.
He’s in that e-mail or phone call I get where someone says, “Hey! How are you doing today?!“ or the other that says, “What’s wrong?” He’s in that hug when people are happy to see me or when it’s the shoulder that I’m able to cry on. He’s in the laughter I share with my friends when someone tells a really good joke (and I believe he’s got an awesome sense of humor).
Do me a favor…go back and re-read verses 11 and 12. (I don’t mind waiting…)
Do you see him?
He’s right there…right there in front of us…face-to-face!
In our friendships – and what joy my friends bring to my life!
But…as much as I’ve come to realize this, I often forget where I can find Jesus when I really need to see him. Instead of reaching out to a friend, I choose to close myself off and feel like it’s just a burden I have to carry alone or I believe the lie that no one wants to hear what’s bothering me…no one will truly understand or even care.
But fortunately, I’ve got those friends out there who won’t give up…who can tell in an e-mail (I’m stilling laughing at that) or a “Hello” (okay…that one’s even funnier) on the telephone that something in me just didn’t sound right.
That’s Jesus in them.
I think we sometimes walk through our life with our spiritual sunglasses on. We pray to God saying, “Please let them see Jesus in me” but when we need to see Jesus our view is shaded. We’re looking inward, not necessarily outward.
We need to take the sunglasses off…because He wants to draw us out of the darkness that we’re surrounded in so that he can use our friends to bring light and joy into our lives…so that we can see Him face-to-face.