I have been thinking over the last few days about friendship. A few days ago our car died, and is now ready to be towed away to be scrapped. It is a sorry sight, standing sadly on our driveway, as though it knows that it will never again cruise along country lanes, or meander through city streets. I posted this sad story on Facebook and as a result, received so many messages of support and encouragement from lovely friends, and offers of help. It felt wonderful, like a warm hug. It got me thinking about the subject of friendship, and its more real and tangeable reality in our everyday lives.
Our friendships are a precious gift from God and as such need to be nurtured and protected. Jesus treasured His friends and nurtured them. The dictionary definition of ‘nurture’ is:
To feed and protect. In John Chapter 6 verse 35, Jesus says, ‘I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and He who believes in Me will never be thirsty.’ 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 verse 7 says, ‘[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres’. He spent time with His friends, supporting and encouraging them. 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5 verse 11 says, ‘Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.’
He also trained them, to enable them to continue His ministry after His ascension, preparing them for the work ahead. (Luke Chapter 9 verses 1 to 27)
I remember when going on holiday with my family, packing the boot of our car to capacity with everything we considered essential! I can’t go away without plenty of changes of clothes, toiletries, and of course, the absolute essential….hair straighteners! But Jesus on this occasion, told His friends to travel light. He sent them out in pairs, not alone, and their ministry was to proclaim the good news and heal the sick, just as they had seen Jesus do. In doing that, they were fulfilling people’s physical and spiritual needs. The disciples were to be provided for by the people in the villages they visited. Jesus was training them to trust Him for their every need. This they did, so that different instructions could be given for their future ministry.
Jesus also understood His friends’ need for rest and quiet. He said to them one day when they must have been feeling overwhelmed with the volume of people and their needs, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
God understands our need for space and quiet sometimes.
Some friendships are short term, others have the potential to be long term, and grow as our lives change.
‘A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.’ (William Shakespeare)
If it wasn’t for my family and good friends, I would never have survived some of the most difficult moments of my life. They gave me advice and a new perspective, they strengthened me and gave me courage to go on, and they were there for laughter and encouragement. Oh how I love to laugh with good friends!
Jesus went through tough times with His friends – Peter, one of His closest friends, denied he knew Him, at the time He needed him the most. In the Garden of Gethsemane, His friends fell asleep while He went through agony, yet, despite all that, they remained friends, and Jesus’ love for them never wavered. Jesus understands our need for true friends.
Sometimes we are so busy with life and family that we forget our friends. We must try not to take our friends for granted. Friendship is a choice, not an obligation and if we don’t value our friendships, they will disappear. If we ignore them, they will drift away. That has happened to me, as I get so busy with day to day living. Friendships need time, and communication. We spend time on the relationships that matter to us.
But our greatest and most precious Friend, and the most important relationship we can have, is Jesus. He died for you and me.
We will find no greater friend. Let’s take time each day with Him, let Him teach us, encourage us, empower us, feed us, support and protect us, by His Word, and His Holy Spirit.
God bless you x