[Jesus said,] “This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” John 15:12-13 (The Message)
I was thinking last night about friendship, specifically the friends that my son James had in his life. It is not difficult to be a friend when life is good and a friendship is all about boating, Halo games, and playing music that you love. But when one of you is going through something like chemotherapy and surgeries, and just when you think it can’t get worse, you have to watch that friend die – it all gets a bit “too real.” And then I thought about our soldiers and how friendships for them are forged in the fire of battle. Your shared battlefield experience is intense and can last a lifetime, whether that is 40-50 years or tragically cut short by a bullet or IED.
I believe that the best friendships are those that God orchestrates. He brings people into my life and I am touched and made better by their gifts and influences. Often these friendships are not easy because they are here to teach me and refine me. I may find something inside of me that needs to be looked at and dealt with. It isn’t easy to look at myself and own an unlovely aspect of my character. It is often when I have found out how self-centered I am.
I am also thinking and studying about grace these days and friendship certainly involves grace, that unconditional love. James did not really want his friends coming to the hospital and standing around his bed. If it were me, I would want my friends to be there but James didn’t. He so appreciated his friends who allowed him to compartmentalize his life and be there when he felt better. He could leave behind sickness and just be one of the guys, hanging out and focusing on fun. I noticed that his friends were good at pacing activities so that he could keep up, even when he had only one lung. It is grace that sees what is needed and just makes it happen.
It is also grace that allows friends to forgive and love even when one friend finds it impossible to come near during the hard times. There is a supernatural compassion that recognizes that the pain of an impending loss is more than one can bear. On the flip side there is also a courage that can give a friend the strength to hold on and walk that final journey together and then let go and allow their friend to leave this world and go before them into heaven. “See ya’ later!”
Jesus shows all of us what friendship is about. He literally laid down His life for us. He didn’t have 100 or 300 “FaceBook friends.” He had twelve. He had three, yes only three close friends who saw the intimate aspects of His life. And only One knew Him inside and out. I can pattern my own life with 2-3 friends who are close to me and only Jesus knows the all of me. A good friend sows into my life in such a way that I am better with them in my life. They bring out the best fruit in me (Galatians 6) because they are all about that fruit themselves. Nothing will separate me from these God-given friends because we are following the same path, the same Savior.
Friends are Friends Forever written by Wes King & Michael W Smith