Tucked away in a remote part of America, Durino, Jack, Pat, Larry, Johnny and George meet six mornings a week at the Silver Spoon. For years they met at The Hook Shop until tight financial times forced its owner to close. Their appreciation for each other is built on a daily investment of time they wouldn’t think of forsaking. Over coffee they sit and poke fun at each other and trade the latest news. In rural Kellogg, Idaho, a healthy habit most of urban America has lost flourishes.
There are lots of people with great friends who don’t know God, but I don’t know anyone who has a deep relationship with God that does not have close friends. A person without friends is like a car with no mirrors. The driver can function, the car still runs but the journey is a pain for the neck.
We all need friends. Friends have the freedom to warn us when we are about to do something foolish or to point out the garden when all we can see is the weed. Friends provide encouragement. They dispense mercy, advice and a listening ear. It’s interesting that our Almighty Father did not make us each Adam and give us a world to rule. He made Eve, and us—sons and daughters, because through fellowship we learn more about each other, and most importantly, more about Him.
When peace is taken for granted the pieces that make friendship must not be neglected. In a time of tough times, pity the person who disdains others. When the smell of hell fills the air and terror roams unseen the real tragedy is those who have only fear to embrace. What value is it to stockpile goods and live in isolation? Without friends we can only paint a skewed picture of God.
Ecclesiastes 4:9,10--Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.
Job 2:11-13—Three of Job’s friends were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. When they heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to demonstrate their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. And no one said a word, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words. (NLT)
When Job’s world fell apart three friends dropped their agendas to be with him. What we assume from the passage is a long-standing friendship was in place. While their advice to him was flawed, their presence and commitment to Job was inspiring. Together, the four of them learned more about God then they could have ever learned alone. May we learn from them!
Life can be hard. Ministry is tough. As one who has pastored, I empathize deeply with other pastors. Too much is expected of them. Most work too hard and are unappreciated. Many must shoulder an incredibly heavy load placed on their shoulders by people with unreal expectations. But what is most sad, is that when the world crashes down on the head of many a servant of God, there are no friends like Job had, willing to come and sit and feel their pain. Sure they had their flaws. They quit sitting and decided to fix him. But I imagine Job was still grateful for their company.
There is no way I would even assume to pastor without a team of like-hearted warriors. And I hope you are not offended by the word “warrior”. There’s a war going on and it isn’t pretty. Before I agreed to start a new church one of the stipulations was that God would have to provide me a ministry partner. I don’t mean to suggest that I was telling God what He had to do. Rather, I was reflecting a principle He firmly established in my heart.
One evening playing indoor soccer, I got into it with a competitor from another team. After a hotly contested game (I can’t remember who won), we exchanged words and were right in each other’s faces. Another player later told the man I was a pastor. He was impressed! And on that night, a wonderful friendship was born.
God answered my prayer by bringing Dan into my life. Dan, aside from his experience as a semi-professional soccer player, served as an Associate Pastor for a Calvary Chapel in California. He was looking for someone who was real and not afraid to be vulnerable, to forge a close relationship. We quickly found that we had much in common.
Many a Saturday evening, Dan and I prayed for the ministry God would give us the next day. We interceded for the lost we rubbed up against, the believers we had the opportunity to assist, our family and whatever the Lord led. For years Dan and I had the joy of pastoring a church. It’s a great thing to co-labor with a man who deeply loves the Lord, who dispenses wise counsel, who is not afraid to be vulnerable and who most of all is faithful.
Whether you’re a man or a woman, I hope you are not swayed into thinking you can progress spiritually on your own. Forget it! You are less than God intended if you operate without letting Christian brothers and sisters have a place in your heart. So be willing to be vulnerable. Sure, you may get hurt. Friends will let you down. But if your eyes stay fixed on Jesus, you’ll find that God-fearing friends are invaluable. Just remember to find a friend, you have to be a friend. Hmmm. It’s time to give my buddy a call!
A friend is someone who has the same enemies you have.—President Abraham Lincoln
None is so rich as to throw away a friend.—Turkish proverb
There is no better mirror than an old friend.—Japanese Proverb
No friends are true friends unless you, my God, bind them fast to one another through that love which is sown in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Who is given to us.—Augustine of Hippo in Confessions
©2001 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)