When my husband and I contemplated a move across the country, I was excited yet also very nervous. I remember sitting in my bedroom and unloading many burdens to the Lord. You see, I had developed many friends in the area where I lived. My family was nearby as well. Yet, I was being called out to live in an area where I knew only 2 people.
I remember telling the Lord that although I knew He was my best friend, and the source of all I needed…I still needed human friends. I could correspond with family and friends but living far away would open me up to a lot of lonely times. I prayed for strength to not fall into despair. No one is made to be isolated. Yet, I did not want just any sort of friends. I told the Lord that it was out of my hands so He was responsible for sending me people that He wished for me to cultivate into new friends. I felt the Lord give me a certain peace after a time spent on my knees. Proverbs 3:6 ‘In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path’
It took some time for this to take place. Much time was spent with the Lord teaching me how to become a source of light in other people’s life. I was reminded that to have friends, meant to be friendly, without being manipulative, controlling, gossipy, judgmental or show off. I felt the Lord’s presence very strongly as I thought of how I could become the person He wanted me to be. I had learned from other mistakes that you can’t buy friendship with gifts or lure people to you by monopolizing a conversation. Continual bragging about past glory days doesn’t touch others either.
I knew what sort of person that I desired to have around me. I enjoy laughter, fun, sweet spirited people and likeminded in their honest desire to seek after the same Jesus that I’ve come to know. I can love those who do not know the Lord, yet I cannot be in a close relationship with someone whose desires take them in a different direction. My aim is clear, I am taking the road that leads to freedom, peace, joy, and absolute love. In other words, I am following after Jesus.
Where can I find folks like this? The answer was a no brainer. I asked the Lord to lead me to a family of Christ…and they meet together in a church. So, I visited a few churches with the expectation that the Lord would direct me to where he wanted me to establish friends and use me as a light for others as well.
James 1:19 ‘Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry..’ Have you listened to others without the need to tell a better story yourself? This is a whisper that the Lord gave to me as I entered in to the church where I found the Lord wanted me to be. Listening is a fun thing to do when you make up your mind to do it. I have learned to be able to speak a few words ‘’let your words be few’ and let others carry the conversation.
The fear of stepping into a new group of people who are already established in their relationships can be daunting. Yet, fear is not from God. He turned it into an exciting journey. I found a good idea in 1 Corinthians chapter 2. I read how Paul came to the Corinthians not with eloquence or superior wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. I'm sure he walked in the fruit of the spirit 'love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. [Galations 5:22] He didn’t go talking with wise and persuasive words to put on a show. Here I was, in the place God wanted me to be and a like a kid in a candy store…I got to sample all sorts of people. His instructions were clear enough that as I listened I realized that the people He chose to be near me were not perfect or out of touch but lived with realities like pain and suffering.
The common denominator was that they believed the word of God and were on the same path that I am on. God gives all of us certain gifting’s and mine is exhortation and an uplifting word. I have always marveled at how God shows me the good in folks and then opens my mouth with an encouraging word. I know that I would not see things like this without the Lord's opening my eyes. It's so easy to go to the negative.
I began to go home and pray for these people I had met. We began to seek out different ways to meet with them. Each church has its own social opportunities and so whenever possible, I was there to socialize. Some nights, I’d just rather sit at home reading a book, but as I step out of my comfort zone I find new adventure. Hebrews 10:25 "Let us not give up the habit of meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching"
When the time was right to open up a bit more and share myself, I found the joy of others praying alongside of me for God’s will to be done in my life. Opening up means talking about yourself and taking a chance at sharing who you are. Yet, it needs to be done at the right time with right people. Matthew 7:6 ‘Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls before swine. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.’ I am therefore choosey in whom I share things with.
The family of Christ is a wonder, to be sure. It’s like a well-tended garden with all sorts of variety and color. A few weeds here and there, but as I sometimes sprout up weeds myself…this is not a deterrent for my joy in finding friends.
I know for a fact that I am not the perfect example of a friend. However, I am the perfect example of God’s mercy and goodness that has been showered down on me. At the beginning of it all was the realization that I have all I need in Christ. I don’t need attention or adoration from others. I do need to have the fellowship of others so I do not become too full of myself though. When we are constantly alone, Satan has a way of speaking lies into us like ‘you’ll never have friends, you’re not worthy, you might as well change your direction and please yourself’ and worse.
The Lord gave me some fun things to do that help out in other folk’s lives as well. I find myself refreshed as I refresh others.
God was at the beginning and he is also at the end. At the end of the day when I am by myself and relaxing in the cool of the day, He is with me. I feel His gentle touch and I am at peace. Peace, being this….nothing missing and nothing broken.