Friends with Benefits

I shamelessly try to come up with titles that will get people to read my blog.

Sometimes…

It’s all just so I can introduce people to my King!

You want to talk about friends with benefits?  Wow!

Forgiveness.  Eternal life.  In heaven.  Holy Spirit power!  Gifts and promises!

And, He is someone I can talk to any time, about anything!  I can yell at Him and He listens.  I can whine and complain, and He cares about my hurts.  In Him, I find peace, safety, a refuge.

All other friends, no matter what the benefits, do not even compare!

Not Much

There seemed to be a weight on him.  My friend seemed to be struggling and I wanted to help but not pry.

“I know I’m not much of a Christian,” I said, “but if there’s anything I can pray for you about…  Just know that I’d be glad to.”

I rambled a bit more and then had to keep moving, keep working.

I thought about what I said, keep thinking about it.

I get that in the grand scheme, comparing myself to many others, I’m not much. But I also think that’s a lie.

In the eyes of heaven, the eyes of my Father, broken and messed up as we all are, every voice lifted in prayer, every heart that cries out (especially for the needs of others) is mighty, powerful, amazing, awesome!

Our enemy lies by showing us only the image of our humanity, our sin.

The Holy Spirit negates those lies with His presence inside us, the gifts He gives us. Jesus negates those lies with His blood that washes over us. Almighty God negates those lies by choosing us, bringing us into His Kingdom, His family.

Can we strike a balance between humility and Godly confidence? Can we find a way to see our greatness in Him and know that it is only because of Him?

Christianity, REAL Christians, are the umbilicus that God chooses and empowers to bring His life to this world.

We just need to realize it.

You Won’t Let Go

I have felt so, incredibly sad lately.

And then today….

Sometimes, when you come off a good day, it can be such a let down that you lose sight of what is real.  I love our youth group, our youth pastor, our youth worship team.  And when I get home, I am practically buzzing.

I want to stay in that moment.  Those times when God is close and what is right seems possible.

But, I don’t.

I go to work in the morning and face the fight.

Today was tough.  I feel such a burden for the people around me and yet feel inadequate to reach them.  One of them has taken it upon himself to turn me away from God, wanting me to join in sex talk, rude gestures, a changed mind.  Today, he told me that he sees me as a homosexual.

I told him I see him as a Christian and accepted his challenge.  Whoever caves to the will of the other loses.

The voices in my head started in.  How I’ll lose.  How foolish I am.  How stupid.

And then God rose up.

I don’t want you to think I’m brave.  I’m not.  I don’t want you to think I’m amazing.  I’m not.

But when God rose up inside me.  I sang out.

“Even in the battle you are with me, I will not be broken in the fight.  You will go before me and behind me.  You’ll never let me go.  You’ll never let me go.” (Cory Asbury – You Won’t Let Me Go)

That’s the reality.  That’s what is true.  I will fight for the heart of this friend.

And let all hell tremble!

 

Ever Present

My son left last night, going home to his apartment, and I barely said “goodbye” to him.  I don’t love him any less.  I just wasn’t “there”.   My wife talks to me sometimes and can get so frustrated.  Because, if I am doing anything, she knows I am not “there” for her.

God, and in turn Jesus, promised that He would not leave us.  “I will never leave you or forsake you,” and, “lo, I am with you always,” are quotes from each of them.  But for many of us, it can have a hollow ring to it.  Particularly after we’ve walked a while in Christian circles where patience is lauded as such a virtue but the acquisition of it is so often ridiculed.

I think about the vastness of the universe and can feel so small on God’s priority list.  Why should He, or would He care about my needs?

My grandson was born and I got to hold him for the first time yesterday.  He is so tiny with very few needs.  His older brother is two and vastly more mobile, with greater needs.  Their mom, her husband, my sons, my wife all have needs.  They place demands on my limited resources but I don’t want to just feed them or put a roof over their heads, give them some money (that’s a joke only my family will understand), or great spiritual guidance.  From the newest, least demanding, to the wife who wants all of me, I want to be “there”.

But God is.  When He says He won’t leave, it is a promise to see us, to hear our needs, to be engaged in the conversations we have. And what is vastly more amazing to me, He WANTS to be “there”.  He calls me to be “there” with Him.  He loves me more than I love Him.  His promise, the promise of His presence with me, does not overwhelm Him, bother or irritate Him.

He is my friend.

He Held My Hand

My friend.

We had walked together for what seemed like so short a time, and now he was dying.  Cancer had come back with a vengence and he was hurting so bad.

I had an accident the day before and my hand was broken.  I was in pain myself but nothing compared to what he was going through.

So, as he was dying, he asked to take my hand, to hold on to his friend for a little while and ease the pain a bit.  With each wave of agony he faced, he would squeeze so hard.  Then he would release as the fury of that silent monster would abate.

And I took the pain.  Not because I’m a hero, not brave, not strong.  I took it because he was my friend.

I look at my hand from time to time, seeing the flaws in the healing, knowing my hand was never the same again.  And I realize that’s why God put us together, all of us.  When we hurt, we often cause pain to others, we create deformities, broken places.  But it is our honor, our priviledge to share in these sufferings.  It is not the time to isolate, to reject, to protect yourself – barring the abusive relationship to be sure.  As we are hurting, we share in the pain, allowing ourselves to be hurt.  Yes, laying down our lives.

It is how we see Jesus.