Not Strange, But Sad

It’s strange that you can’t find words to say when you’re praying, but you have no trouble thinking what to talk about with a friend.

Part of a recent Facebook post in my newsfeed, I found this statement nestled among similar ones designed to highlight Christian failings.  Instead of finding it strange, however, I found it sad.  And not in the way intended.

If the statement is reality for believers, then prayer has become something other than it was meant to be.  Something we do (or should do) because we’re Christians, rather than the means by which we become more intimately acquainted with our heavenly Father.  This is strange, but in a sad way.

Proverbs 18:24  NIV A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

The friend who sticks closer than a brother is Jesus Christ, Who lives in us by His Spirit.  That’s as close as it gets.  In addition, He calls us His friend.1  If we are really friends, why is talking together so difficult?

friendship-1534626-639x479Friends talk with one another about anything and everything, listen to one another, find comfort in silence, work together to help others, interacting along the way.  The more time they spend together, the better they know one another.  The better they know one another, the more time they want to spend together.

Is this the kind of friendship I experience with Christ?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  How about you?  When the methods and mindsets from so many years of religion become my default mode, I lose the freedom in prayer for which my friend Christ Jesus has set me free.2  When the duty becomes my focus, rather than the relationship, that sense of intimate friendship is lost temporarily, leaving me unable to find words to speak.

That’s not strange, my friends.  It’s sad.

1 James 2:23

2 Galatians 5:1

Tribute to a Friend

My friend’s mother passed away yesterday unexpectedly.  The sadness I feel isn’t just for my friend and his family, but for me, too.  This woman was my friend, and I shall miss her.  Yet, moments after hearing the news, my thoughts were taken in a completely different direction.

I’ll be honest.  At first, I thought about how she’s seeing things about the Lord she wouldn’t believe while here, things some of us already knew and tried to tell her.  That arrogant train of thought was quickly destroyed when I realized she’s seeing it all so much more clearly than any of us ever will while on earth.  She understands the limitations of the doctrines she believed, as well as the limitations of the “greater” doctrines we espouse – and sees what the fullness of Truth really is.

Where earthly things are concerned, she sees now how much time was wasted on things of no value, while being shown the eternal impact some of her seemingly insignificant actions had.  I would love to get her perspective for my own life, even after only one heavenly day’s experience.  As a faithful choir member for decades, what notes can she hear that mortal ears can never perceive?  What amazing landscapes does she see now – with colors so crisp and vibrant, and far beyond our visible spectrum?  Then there is also her over-the-top delight in reuniting with friends and loved ones as they celebrate her homecoming.

As wonderful as all these are, they pale in comparison to seeing the face of her Creator, her Father, her Savior and Lord, her Jesus!  He is the One by Whom, for Whom, and through Whom she was made, and now my friend is experiencing Him in His fullness.  Today, you and I can only wonder about it, but one day we will also see Him as He is.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NIV

54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  55 “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”  56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  57 But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Goodbye, my friend.  Thank you for helping me see more clearly – even from heaven.  I look forward to seeing you among my welcoming committee when I arrive.

Matchless, Unbroken Companionship

“And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!”  Isaiah 30:18 Amplified

I don’t know how many times I’ve read this verse, even in the Amplified version, yet I’ve not noticed the phrase: His matchless, unbroken companionship.  God, the Creator of the universe, wants for the two of us to have an unbroken companionship – as in never apart, never wondering where the other one is or what the other is thinking or doing.  The idea of this companionship is so lopsided, in my mind, because it includes the matchless One and me; but, He declares in His Holy Word, not mine, that this is just a part of what I will receive as I wait for Him.  As if that’s not enough, He longs to make this real in my life!

God has not been withholding Himself from me.  It’s just that I’ve been willing to settle for so much less of Him and His companionship.  I’ve been satisfied with coming and going, as I would with an earthly friend.  He is known as Friend, but He greatly desires for it to be so much more than I have allowed!  I have given other things the place that belongs to Him alone; yet, He has continued to wait, always expecting me to return to wait, look, and long for Him.  As I consider this, I realize that He is already pouring out His mercy on me – before I ever recognized my need for it.  How thankful I am for His ways!  Romans 11:33 in the NIV says what I can’t:

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”

I don’t want to settle any longer for less than my Father’s matchless, unbroken companionship.  It’s time to make some adjustments in priorities and focus, so that my eyes and mind are fixed on His Word, and I am earnestly waiting for Him – expecting, looking, and longing for all He is and all He longs to be for me in my life!