One of the things I love about being a woman is how relational God has made us. Since we were young, we have had BFF’s, attended slumber parties and even as adults we have girl nights and playgroups with our kids so that we can get together with other women. Previously, I would get embarrassed as my Mom would talk to the cashier at the grocery store, the other patients in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or the stranger in the chair next to her at the nail salon. Now as I am older, I find myself making conversation in all those places and more. As we began this year talking about hope, I am once again reminded of God’s goodness in making us a part of community. He has placed others in our lives to walk with us, encourage us and hold us accountable. Likewise, we are to encourage and journey with others. One of the big overarching themes of For All the King’s Daughters is the word “whole”. We will be talking a lot about this word and concept over the next few months, but for now, I want to gather with you here today and chat about friendships.
I mentioned last week that the downside of living in a social media-saturated and somewhat obsessed culture is we tend to shy away from deep relationships and yet, I believe we were created for deep and authentic community. Granted, you cannot have these types of friendships with the 400-800 people that are your “friends” on Facebook, but what about those 3-4 friends who you see often, live near, and do life with on a regular basis? I think we crave to know people and be known, really known. Often times, I have been too busy, too frantic, too self absorbed and quite frankly too prideful to allow myself to get into these deep relationships and I have suffered for it.
I think about my grandmother and her generation and how they had the same amount of time in their day as I do, and yet they found time to talk life and faith with each other. They were not worried about posting it on social media, they were just living, loving and enjoying each other. Life was hard, money was tight, but they got through it together. They shared their groceries, their tables, their clothesline, their cars and they were better for it. This sounds a lot like the believers lived life in the early days of the church. Acts 1-2 describe this type of community. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating pulling out of all commitments, ditching all social media outlets, nor yanking your kids out of sports activities, but I am simply asking this question: to what end are we running so frantic? Is it worth it? Are we enjoying our life? Are we having a meaningful impact on anyone?
I sense that if you are reading this post, something in you is stirring and you understand what I am talking about. Like many other current soul cravings, we can trace it back to creation. Yep, that’s what I said. This desire to connect, to know and be known relates to that Hebrew word we discussed last week…yada. You and I were created with a longing for meaningful relationships. It was woven into our DNA by the God of the universe. Remember last week we broke down the name of God that He revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14. This all encompassing, all powerful, sacred name for God is also a deeply relational God, why? Because He made us, He knit us together in our mother’s wombs, He’s invested in us and our souls will never be satisfied, will never be known, nor be whole until we know Him! Did you catch that? The words “know” and “whole” are linking up!
Sweet friend, this is why we need Jesus and this is why we were designed to need others. We are all vital parts of a glorious whole! This is why superficial relationships just leave us feeling “eh”. This is why shallow conversations in our home, at our work and in our church, still leave us yearning for something more. This is why a woman who spends so much time in a group of people, can come home and feel so isolated and lonely. We are craving deep, honest, relationships and we are not finding them. We have to pause here and look around the room to those who we’ve gathered with and shake our heads in agreement, right? Now, let me press just a little more into the uncomfortableness, and ask….aren’t we equally craving a deeper and more thriving, real relationship with God? All of our quick, 5 minute devotionals, sweet stories and happy slogans are just not cutting it, right? Our real lives, our real struggles, our deep wounds, our deep cravings for connection need more than shallow, quick fixes. We all know that this life is messy and we need a God who enters in the mess and has something to really help us. We need to know that He sees, He cares and He has the power to do something. We need to know that He understands us!
I have great news……there is hope! Our God is the hope of the nations! Check out this verse I came across this week,
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Did you hear that? Jesus doesn’t delegate His work in us to anyone else. He loves us and therefore He gives “eternal comfort” and He gives us “good hope through grace”. Comfort and hope are relational words, friend. God, in Jesus, engages our mess and relates to us in deep ways. He doesn’t shy away from the real struggles, the deep wounds or the brokenness that marks our lives, in fact, that’s just where He longs to come close and remind us that He has been there. Look at this passage….
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16
Throughout the Bible, we see God entering into the mess and devastation that plagues men and women and brings hope, healing and soul penetrating comfort. He makes people and situations whole again, not by waving a magic wand, not by a bumper sticker slogan or a 3 step plan, but rather He brings deep, complete wholeness by giving us what we truly need……HIMSELF. He is the whole God, Jehovah, the I AM. And as we spend time in His Word, and seek to know Him, He brings wholeness and healing to us and He graciously brings us into deeper relationships with others that can walk with us through this crazy life.
I want to ask you a favor. Would you be willing to spend 15 minutes, being quiet and considering this concept? Would you endeavor to list the deep friendships you currently have? I mean those friends who truly know you, know your struggles, know your successes, can speak truth to you and really love you. Lastly, would you spend time thinking about your relationship with God? Would you be willing to admit any areas of shallowness in that relationship?
I want more out of my relationship with Jesus and others. I want to be a better friend to others and I want to know Jesus in a deeper way and be reminded of His perfect understanding and love for me. How about you? Sincerely, I thank you for being here and being willing to take this journey and grow with me in Jesus. Have a great week!