The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant. Ps 25.14
Kindness is a fruit of the spirit. Yet according to Tim Keller, this word is so much more. It could be translated as compassion, honesty, vulnerability or trustworthiness. In fact, the word is so deep, it really cannot be defined by a word at all. It can only be defined as a relationship- friendship. The sermon was very powerful for me and really caught me by surprise today in two ways.
First, it exposed in my heart a huge area of rawness. I miss my friends, I long for friends and I am thankful for friends. I miss all of the friends we left behind and feel so removed from life, conversation, and being travel partners together in life. I miss the dreams we had with a few close friends to be overseas together, sharing about the hope of Christ and bringing transformational development. I often sit around and think- if only so and so were here- he would love this person or be great at engaging the community in this way. I know it, I love that part of him. I know that the Great Shepherd leads us on different paths, but it does not make my longing for their daily companionship any less. I truly miss you guys and am thankful for you and how God has used you give me hope, encouragement and laughter. I also am so thankful for those of you who constantly pursue our friendship even with my poor communication back by email or phone calls. Your emails reminds me that we can walk together even if we are not in the same place.
Secondly, it gave me a new definition of friendship, and a new hope. Friendship is something that is discovered and not made. Friendship is something that has to be worked on. Friendship is something worthy of pursuing. Friendship is not about having a friend but pursuing a common love and objective together in a way that brings joy to each other. Though the world would say it has to be with people of the same education, same social class, same race, etc, it does not. In the Gospel give a driving passion that can and should unite people across any barrier (Ephesians 2:14). Most importantly, the vulnerability, self-sacrificing, compassion and loyalty of friendship were most demonstrated by Jesus for me. He is not only God, but He is a God that is a friend. The scriptures are filled with verses on friends with God, from Genesis to Revelations! My favorite is in John 17 where Jesus tells the Father that He wants me to be where He is! In my loneliness here, I can and should enjoy this great hope in the Gospel. In doing so, it also frees my heart to seek friendship and risk vulnerability to new friends.
This sermon hit me where I think most of us struggle. We long for life-long friends with whom we laugh, work, pray, cry and enjoy life. Our team has now dwindled down to our family and Anna. Saying all these good byes does make us feel abandoned- even if it is not true. So we must hope that God does have plans to meet our needs and desires. The Gospel says he does. Pray that we can trust this hope. Pray that we will open our hearts to new friendships here. Pray also that God would send friends to with whom to partner. Pray that He would send some that will be new friends and pray that He would send some that are old friends.