I’m old enough to have friends I’ve known for 3 decades or longer. I want to introduce you to a few of them today. The point isn’t just to honor them, but to also draw attention to specific godly qualities that have forever changed me…and to remind you of friends of yours like them (more on that at the end).
I’ve known Cyndy (pictured here with her husband, John) for over 30 years. The thing I most appreciate about her is that even during seasons when my sin or discouragement is on full display she is quick to draw attention to evidences of God’s grace in my life. Cyndy loves and studies truth, and has a robust understanding of biblical principles. During one of the most challenging times in my life she was there to gently but firmly draw my attention to how God was at work in my broken life. Cyndy understands grace and has taught me how to find it when times are tough. I never feel that my weaknesses or sins are disappointing or offensive to her. Rather, she is quick to both empathize with and gently challenge me to repent. Yet she doesn’t stop there. She brings soothing, hope-giving encouragement to my weary soul. God is always bigger to me after I interact with her.
From our first encounter on a Sunday morning nearly 20 years ago, I was met with Lisa’s warm and caring heart. She (on the right her with Lou, her husband) has shown me how to incarnate Christ, especially to the hurting. Whether it’s a thoughtful call; an unexpected pot of soup when I was sick; caring and specific questions; empathetic tears or heartfelt joy, depending on the need of the moment…Lisa is gifted by God with a heart to both declare and demonstrate His love. In fact, this past Monday she flew 800 miles to spend the week caring for our sick friend by cooking, cleaning, laughing, praying and going to doctor’s appointments. God is always more loving to me after I interact with her.
Liz (here with her husband, Frank) and I have been friends since my now 33-year-old son was a baby. She is currently in the trial of her life, facing cancer and needing a miracle. Yet because “pressure introduces a person to him/herself” God is using this time to expose years of faithful pursuit of Him in her life. We were chatting last week and she started sharing some thoughts from the Bible study she is currently using…and it’s the same publisher she has used for decades! Every Christmas since we met she has prayerfully considered what to “give Jesus for His birthday” and has enjoyed a sweet relationship with her Savior. Even during times of dryness, she has continued to pursue Him faithfully, asking for a restoration of her “first love.” God is always more desirable after I interact with her.
Cyndy, Lisa, Liz and I have had some rough times in our friendships. I haven’t always been a good friend to them. But all relationships are tough at times. I’m glad they persevered with me.
A few years back I had a dream that my body was covered with handwritten signatures. The Lord used this to deepen my affection and appreciation for the people He has used to provoke, admonish, encourage, comfort and love me. But mostly, they’ve been used to show me Christ. Each signature meant He had brought individual people to me for my good (even the hard relationships….more on that next week).
You have those people in your life, too. I pray that meeting my friends reminds you of yours. Would you want to thank them for leaving their signatures on your life?
Thank you Cyndy, Lisa and Liz. God is bigger, more loving and more desirable to me because of you.
P.S. Can you join our prayer vigil for Liz this weekend? You can get information here.