I can’t even begin to top Rayden Hollis 8 Reasons You Need Friends. His recent article and life in general made me contemplate a few things.
God’s grand cosmic scheme makes me shutter. Creation aside for just a moment, its incredible how many people you meet in a lifetime who know other people you know who do not live in the same area. It is also just as amazing how two people can live in completely different parts of the world and by one single event or a string of events their paths cross.
Rayden and I had one class together in seminary. He was commuting three hours to take three classes I believe. The last of which was a missions course that we were taking together. I’m not sure why I took that class then. One course. A few exams and a couple of conversations led to a friendship in which he is somebody I look up to and wish I lived as dedicated a life as him. That was almost ten years ago. I think we have seen each other maybe 4 times since. All four being extremely significant in maturing me.
I found this is the case for me across the board. All of the people I would call the closest have to go away. Some journey further because life takes them geographically to other places. My best friend from childhood was the son of my pastor. He used to tell us all the time “we may not always be here. God may send us somewhere else.” We thought he was crazy. Until our senior year where they relocated to Memphis and I transferred to another high school. In college I used to avoid the first gathering of the year with some college friends because I could see it coming to an end and we would soon be scattered all across the country. Years following friendships established in ministry and God’s plan keeps everyone moving. They keep moving away in some manner. Sometimes right in the same town. Sometimes vicinity does not have anything to do with it they may be down the street its just the dynamics change due to schedules, priorities, responsibilities, etc.
I do not know if its a cross for me or maybe for their benefit. Perhaps I’m overbearing…in my towering stature at 5′-5″. No I think its just my lot. Paths cross for seasons and Fall comes so quickly then its time for them to go. Maybe its fairly common and I have some heightened sense of it. I do not know. But what it has done is given me an understand and an appreciation.
We live out our existence going through the motions and thinking about circumstances and situations, resolutions and hopes. And at the throne God has orchestrated some of the greatest people in the world to come into your life for some period of time. Great people who are talented and a blessing and can teach you something and you may help them. And you find that when they are there you begin to wonder what you were doing before you met. God orchestrates these friendships and life takes on a clearer meaning about what really matters. They help you reevaluate what it means to live. They remind you to laugh. They help you not take yourself so seriously. They tell you that you that you are OK. They permit you to serve them. They look at your sin and then remind you who you belong to. Something you are mixes with something they are and it all of it grants to you some solace that God is really in control of everything. Their presence reminds you of God’s presence.
That in itself is to be appreciated. In God’s infinite providence He thought it better to create one earth and not millions where we would live alone. Nothing is really left to vile chance. There must be some intrinsic meaning to God (if no one else) when the paths of His creation cross. Whether the season is short or a lifetime tells us about His sovereignty: He stands between us and every person. Mediating the terms and the time of the connection. This baffles me. Our friendships are in God’s gracious hands.
I do not think its unique for me, but I notice it. And its frustrating because I am trying not squelch opportunities while I am thinking “God how long do we get to be friends like this before it changes.” . Everyone who becomes a close friend has to go, one way or another. But that is perhaps the worth of friendship. Distance, dynamics, and change do not define friendship. They are merely complements to friendship. If worlds separated us, friendship is still in effect. Once your life has been affected nothing changes the fact that you are friends. Perhaps this is why Jesus would say that friends lay down their lives for one another.
There was tension and jockeying for position among the first disciples (the apostles in particular.) But I’d like to think that over three years of experience after experience because Jesus put them together there had to be some kindred friendships among them. Perhaps some heartfelt devotion. Maybe they began to be encouraged just watching someone else in the group being blessed. They ate together regularly at least; eating together seems to bring out the best in us. [Sometimes just suggesting food to others is good enough.] I would like to believe they were learning to love one another and not merely heard what Jesus said.
Then Jesus said that it is time for Him to go and the dynamics change.
You hear very little about all the apostles being together very long after Jesus’ departure. Fall had come quickly and now things have to change. Friendship dynamics have changed. Many of them have to go it somewhat alone. He will send others along the way though. Some fishermen, tax collectors, perhaps one of somewhat royalty brought together on the path for some time but soon they would have go separate ways.
What is the point? I am still wrestling through this I suppose it will take a lifetime. But to date I think what I see is that when you get the grace of walking a few feet on the path with someone else. Appreciate it. Learn from it. Cherish it. Love it and love them. Try your best to respect it. And forgive if the other person is as human as you are. Because some of the greatest moments you long to hold on to will be fleeting moments that one day you’ll have to admire it from a distance. But it will teach you a different type of gratitude: it will teach you to love people on a level that words can’t quite do justice. And it will love their creator at a level that praise can’t seem to get to either.