Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do You Have Friends?

Andy and I have been here a year now. We left the daily comfort and ease of our established friendships and now have begun to form new "daily life" relationships. It's so good. And it's so hard. Letting down and being vulnerable is downright scary at times, but I'm so thankful for the depth He is providing through His church. We are growing as we begin again and open up to the new friends He is giving us.

I was encouraged by an article in TableTalk magazine Noel Piper wrote, sharing how God opened her heart and life to deep friendships at age 60. In it, she calls friends, "an appetizer to the feast of Jesus' friendship". I love that thought. So very true. Here's a bit of her story:

"as these friends opened themselves to me, my heart warmed to them and I felt more and more freedom with them. We came to trust each other with the tender places of our hearts...
God showed Himself in the deep wisdom that sprang from their lives’ stories of widowhood, life-threatening disease, physical disability, and victory over severe obesity. In their wider family groups were suicide, mental illness, prodigal children, and alienation. Those kinds of pain become part of a person’s life and are rarely over and done. So from within their own history and daily experience, with tenderness, understanding, and empathy of experience they prayed for me, advised me, and gave me hope.

In Proverbs 27:9, Solomon might have been writing about my friends: “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” God used them to make my heart glad 
To be fair, sometimes their words were not easy for me to hear. Often the phone calls, text messages, or emails were positive and encouraging. But sometimes a wise friend saw that I needed a rebuke, a reminder to call sin “sin.” “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6).
I was sixty years old when this story began — when I was forced to have friends. I am ashamed that, until then, I could have remained so ignorant of what God intended friendship to be. At the same time, I am filled with gratitude that God didn’t leave me alone."

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