After a glorious day, camera in hand, exploring the beauty of Colorado Aspens in the fall, I sat at dinner witnessing color and warmth and richness of a different kind. Playing just across the table from me was a colorful comedy. The meal took backstage to the humorous adventures and countless stories of old friends.
Not only did I glimpse a vision of friendship vividly played-out in front of my eyes, I was an invited guest. I got to share, to be part of the moment.
The stories were detailed and dramatic. That night God gave me a vision far greater than Aspens in the fall. Nothing celebrates life more than old friends sharing memories. The abundant life God intended us to experience is impossible without friendship. It is our most prized possession.
God's masterpiece of creation isn't found in glorious sunsets, or mountaintop panoramas, or spectacular fall colors; it's invested inside the people who inhabit this planet. God put his HD in us long before someone thought of 1080i, but you can't find it by yourself, it takes friendship to see it. In fact, living in HD (High Definition) is only possible within friendship. As your book of life unfolds and the chapters are written, you will discover that nothing is more valuable than friends.
Tragically it seems friendship, true friendship, has been devalued and discounted. Some have never experienced it. You can get your face on the cover of "Time" or "U.S.News" or "Forbes," millions may know your name, but without real friends it's an empty achievement. You may be networked to thousands in "Facebook," "My Space," "Twitter," and "Plaxo," yet still have zero best friends.
Best friends know you; they know your strengths and your weaknesses, your secrets and your stories. They are invested in you and you are invested in them. They encourage you and bring out the best in you, but at times they get in your face and say what needs to be said. Their words, even if they hurt, always matter; they become part of your story and you become part of theirs.
Jesus said, "Here's how to measure your love: the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends. You are my friends if you obey me." Want to be a best friend? Show your love; invest your life in others. Jesus pointed us that way.
If you want your joy in life to overflow, then get your focus off yourself. Choose a friend and invest your lives together in something bigger than either of you: build something, take a trip, share secrets and deal with tough issues, work on a project, stay up all night talking and dreaming and laughing. Experience life together.
Eric was having one of those, "I don't really want to do this" moments. He wanted to stay home and "veg-out." But, God pushed him forward anyway.
For several weeks now the group had been gathering on Tuesday's for coffee and questions and Eric was growing a little disconnected and bored, even though he was supposed to be the leader.
But this night changed everything.
She had been coming for weeks, but had remained silent and mysterious. So her words held a double-whammy.
Her voice was soft and engaging, but stinging: "Christians talk so much about the abundant life, but it seems all your decisions are based on fear. It seems you become Christians because you are afraid of going to hell. You live a 'good' life so that God won't punish you or the church won't get mad at you. You don't share your faults because you are afraid of looking bad ... fear, fear, fear. Fear of hell, fear of punishment, fear of displeasing God or others — honestly, that doesn't sound like abundance to me."
Ouch, what a zinger! The group was stunned. She put into words what each of them was afraid to even think. No one had an answer. She had taken a big risk to make a statement like that and no one knew how to respond. They left with her words still hanging in the air.
Eric asked, "Can we sit and talk awhile longer?"
That night became a holy moment. God used a stinging question/statement to launch a friendship that has reshaped faith for both of then and left them blessed by a touch of abundance.
Do you have a best friend or two? Does he or she know it?
Find a way this week to reclaim your friends. Share a lunch or dinner. Write a note or an email reliving a moment in the past. Invite a potential new friend to trust you enough to move past the surface stuff and talk of serous things. Get involved in a ministry with new friends. Reconnect with old friends and see what God does with it.
Prepare for a touch of the abundant life.