I am blessed with true friends. But, in an imperfect world--including the Christian world––we are hurt by friends. I've been hurt, and I guess maybe you have too.
There are many varieties of friends. Some stay forever, some just pass through your life for a season. All are a blessing or a lesson. Some tell you how to pack your bags while true friends ask how they can help pack your bags.
Which friend do you prefer––the teller or the asker? What if a friend insists on telling me how to pack my bags to return to Bolivia having never been there? Is that friend concerned about my needs or just opinionated––even in things they know nothing about? How do you react to such a friend? Maybe you have them! Maybe that person needs a true friend to learn how to become one. Can I be that friend? Can you?
"An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgement starts quarrels. Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions." Proverbs 18:1-2 (NIV)
I don't want to be unfriendly, do you? But we all have our opinions. If we daily become more like Jesus, can't we become extraordinary friends by seeking God's mind before speaking instead of blurting out our opinions?
I have friends who are extraordinary, and I've seen them do extraordinary things for God and me. They bless me, and they teach me how to be a true friend.
"A friend loves at all times..." Proverbs 17:17 (NIV) I am a recipient of that love and friendship. I see Jesus in those friends whenever I am with them. They are always willing to sacrifice for others, and they radiate with the love of God. Oh, to learn from them and have others see Jesus in my life as I see Him in theirs.
When we arrived in the States last May, we had an apartment waiting for us. An old friend offered it to us free of charge. He said it needed to be cleaned because the previous renters had abused it. We expected to do the work it needed and eventually furnish it with the necessary things to make it livable for our five-month stay.
Two of our extraordinary friends picked us up at the airport at midnight and drove us home. An hour later, we climbed the 20 plus stairs to the apartment we'd call home for the next five months. We were prepared to live with the basic needs for such a short time period––a bed, a shower, and a microwave for the few meals we'd be eating on our own.
We opened the door. A cute little lamp shed a soft glow around the room. A cinnamon scent filled the air. We walked into a cozy room filled with furniture, curtains, and even decorated with adorable wall hangings and twinkle lights. We searched for words––I am never speechless––but none passed our upturned lips. We walked around the apartment taking in the incredible scene of hard work by extraordinary friends. The couple with us (extraordinary friends also) allowed us to drink in the moment. Kitchen fully equipped––cupboards filled with food, dishes, silverware, and basic needs in the frig. Bathroom––everything we needed, even toothbrushes and cleaning supplies and creams, shampoos, and candles and lacy curtains. Bedroom––a bed with a beautiful comforter and curtains to match and oh, did I mention, dressers, lamps, and even an ironing board and iron. Plus wall hangings, so cute and handmade with love.
We returned to the living room and noticed one more detail previously missed. If you haven't shed a tear yet you will now, get your tissue. Above the couch, a wall hanging made of an old window frame, just adorable. But wait, there are photos hanging by clothespins on twine in each windowpane. They are photos of our grandkids, our kids, our animals, and even a few of our ministry. I felt warm, moist drops of joy fall over my cheeks. We were home!
Who does this sort of thing? Extraordinary friends! They are ordinary people who are extraordinary friends. I am learning to be a friend. I may be an ordinary person, but I want to become an extraordinary friend. I have the best example to follow. His name is Jesus. I see Him in the acts of my extraordinary friends.
What kind of friend are you? Will you strive to be an extraordinary friend?