Sunday, September 30, 2012

Friends...forever?


About two months ago, I walked into a room that I had only briefly visited in the previous five years. I was welcomed by an abundance of old belongings which quickly reminded me that it had indeed been awhile since I had slept regularly within these four walls.

Feeling brave one recent evening, I pulled out a box from beneath my bed that had sat there relatively untouched in its 10 years of existence. I opened the flaps and was quickly greeted with memories from my past. Gifts, pictures, and cards from my school years were soon scattered on the floor. A similar theme coursed throughout the many trinkets I leafed through, whether emblazoned on a picture frame or scribbled in a handwritten note.

“Friends forever.”

Forever, eh? Forever is a difficult notion to wrap your head around as an adult much less as a child or a teenager. But sure enough, my friends and I were determined to have our friendships last for as long as we could possibly imagine.

But as inevitability has it, schools change, personalities mature, characters develop. Friendships that once were destined to last to infinity and beyond may slowly fade into a memory tucked away in a box beneath a bed.

As I pondered the friendships in my life- some that have come and gone, others that have come and stayed, and even some that have come, gone, and since returned- I couldn’t help but be reminded of one Friend in particular.

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” [John 15:15]

Jesus, the One with every right to call me servant, chose to call me friend.

The closest of friends share their deepest thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and this is exactly what the Lord did for us. He chose to make known all that He had learned because He desired to call us friend. What a remarkable reality! And two verses earlier, we see an excellent depiction of what this friendship means for us.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” [John 15:13]

Jesus, my closest friend, laid down His life for me. For you. For those who have never even heard of Him. And He did that so we could experience life with him, true friendship. The kind of friendship that lasts forever.

I don’t always understand His friendship. I can go days and days without spending time with Him. I can forget to thank Him for the gifts with which He has provided me. I can flat out ignore or reject the commands He has given me out of love. And my experiences tell me that these actions should cause this friendship to slowly fade away, but this friendship is not dependent on me. He has offered this friendship to me as a gift, that once accepted, cannot be taken away. I strive to be a good friend, but when I fail Him, I know that He will not walk away from our friendship.

I am so thankful there is a Friend who wants to walk through life with us, every footstep along the way. Do we, as Christians, rely on our closest Friend? For those of you who have not accepted this gift of friendship, do you desire to taste of a love that never ends?

Although many friendships will not last a lifetime, this is one that undoubtedly will.

Friends forever.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Middle of Somewhere


We’ve all heard the phrase, and most of you have probably used it at some point in your life. It’s seemingly harmless, and I’ve never really given a second thought to it before. After all, when there’s nothing else around you, the best description may very well seem like “the middle of nowhere.”

Not too long ago, I was talking with a stranger about my upcoming time in Kenya. He asked where I would be located, and I responded that it was a remote area in the north central part of the country.

“It’s kinda in the middle of nowhere.”

I figured he would nod his head in response, somewhat impressed by me venturing off into the desert. He could then shake my hand, wish me good luck, and be on his way. My haughty attitude was quickly corrected.

“That place doesn’t exist.”

I was taken aback. Excuse me? Of course it exists. I wasn’t following him until he continued with striking simplicity and amazing depth of insight.

“Every place is a somewhere.”

I couldn’t help but smile and agree with this man whom I had met only moments earlier. I hadn’t realized what I was implying beforehand. Yes, certainly, every place is a somewhere.

Two weeks ago, the somewhere I had the privilege of visiting took me to Pottstown, PA. I was able to share with a lovely and welcoming group of people the journey God has placed me on and the somewhere that I am headed to. And in return, I was able to hear about the ministry that they take part in, reaching out to people in their somewhere, so that God’s name may be proclaimed.

And in four months, my somewhere will be a remote little town in northern Kenya. There might not be a whole lot of people. There might not be a whole lot of businesses or shops. And there’s not likely to be a whole lot of “things to do” as defined by American standards.  But by no means does that qualify Korr as a nowhere. It’s teeming with people with stories and names and faces. They are valued and loved by the God who created them. And that’s more than enough to make the place they call home a somewhere.

This truth then wraps me to my core. I have value. I have worth. I am a “somebody.” Not because of anything inherent within me or because of anything I’ve done to earn those things, but rather, because God gives me value. He gives me worth. He looks at me with delight.

“But now this is what the Lord says… ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’” [Isaiah 43:1]

God knows me by name and has redeemed me. When I have sin, he gives me forgiveness. When I am unlovely, he shows me love. And when I was a nobody, he made me a somebody.

I pray that you are reminded of this beautiful truth each time the sun appears over the horizon and a new day begins. The worth that is found in Him is a gift that He freely offers, and I desire for everyone to be enveloped in that incredible reality. Nothing else can ever truly satisfy.

Be renewed in that hope. Wherever life has you. In your middle of somewhere.