Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What a friend I've found...

I had a great telephone conversation with a friend a few nights ago.

It was one of those sweet "swing-set" moments when the two of you are in perfect sync and you are delighted just to find yourself together in the moment.

As we swung together, my friend blessed and encouraged me. We commiserated and laughed; she shared the things the Lord was doing in her heart, some of her recent struggles and triumphs, and my love and excitement for her overflowed. She shared with me what my friendship meant to her and I found myself delighting in just knowing her.

I love friends.

As I lay in bed later, I thought back to when we first became friends, over a decade before, and how different the friendship looked back then. There was a time when I idolized her. I was simultaneously awed and intimidated by her talents, her easy confidence, and how effortlessly she walked the Christian line. In that time, I was not really her friend, I was a fan.

Before you think about how sweet this is, you ought to know that I was an insecure girl, filled with passion and bravado, and I desperately wanted to be admired. Disappointed aspirations and insecurity brought me to a place where I began to resent how easily my friend was all of those things that I wanted to be. I loved her and she loved me, but my fears and disappointments became a barrier to real friendship.

But, as Christ grew in me and began to show me how pleased he was in me- imperfect, passionate, inconsistent me, the friendship changed. I began to rejoice in her gifts and talents and to marvel at the goodness of God that was demonstrated in her life. A deeper blessing was knowing that God used me to bless her, that my friendship encouraged and built her up.

As I waited for sleep that night, it shot through my drowsy brain how much better it was to be friends than to be a fan.

I thought of this as I recalled story of Peter's first meeting with a resurrected Jesus. The bible says that Peter was so excited when he saw Jesus on the shore that he leaped out of his fishing boat into the water and began sloshing through the water to meet him. I imagined him reaching shore, sopping wet, and in his effusive Peter-ish way, throwing himself into the arms of his savior.

It reminds me of the times I did the same thing to a friend after a too-long separation or a frightening experience. I never did that to a teacher or a preacher; I wouldn’t do that to musical idol or a favorite author. This is an exchange between friends.

You know the verse I'm thinking about right now, don't you? One you've probably heard as often I as have, one you may have bubbled about our shared with your own friends. But, tell me,

...is Jesus your friend?

Is he the kind of friend you admire at arms length, one who's perfection makes you bewildered, sad, discouraged or resentful? Is he the kind of friend you want to impress or are afraid to disappoint? Is he the kind of friend you suspect is secretly tired of or embarrassed of you?
"Delight yourself in the Lord..." Psalm 37:4
Delight, isn't this the substance of friendship? It isn't admiration or respect, it isn't even love, though these things are important. I can respect a stranger and I can even love an enemy, but friendship is found in some unique mix of trust, communion and genuine delight.

One of my favorite quotes on friendship is found in C.S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain:
"Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling of that something which you were born desiring..."
L.M. Montgomery made the phrase "kindred spirits" famous in her Anne of Green Gables series. The term implies a shared spirit, a unity of mind and heart that is rare and precious.

A meeting of hearts and a unity of mind.



I've known Jesus for over twenty years. I've worshipped Him, been afraid him, chased after him, and tried to impress him. But I can tell you that the greatest moments of my life have been when I've simply delighted in him.

I can tell you that, when it comes to Jesus, it's far better to be friends than to be a fan.


  1. I find myself very insecure with friends too, yet I feel completely comfortable in my friendship with Jesus.

  2. It's intimidating when you have a bunch of really awesome friends (and you have impossible expectations).

    This definitely checked me for a minute. Sometimes I find myself thinking of God as an employer or a mentor & I lose the "reality" and simplicity of just being hardcore, elbow-deep friends.