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  • The Reformed Pastor – Richard Baxter

    “We must carry on our work with patience. We must bear with many abuses and injuries from those to whom we seek to do good. When we have studied for them, and prayed for them, and exhorted them, and beseeched them with all earnestness and condescension, and given them what we are able, and tended them as if they had been our children, we must look that many of them will requite us with scorn and hatred and contempt, and account us their enemies, because we ‘tell them the truth.’ Now, we must endure all this patiently, and we must unweariedly hold on in doing good, ‘in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.’ We have to deal with distracted men who will fly in the face of their physician, but we must not, therefore, neglect their cure. He is unworthy to be a physician, who will be driven away from a frenetic patient by foul words. Yet, alas, when sinners reproach and slander us for our love, and are more ready to spit in our faces, than to thank us for our advice, what heart-risings will there be, and how will the remnants of old Adam (pride and passion) struggle against the meekness and patience of the new man! And how sadly do many ministers come off under such trials!”
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I recently received a sweet thank you card from a friend and it set me to thinking about all the wonderful friends I’ve accumulated over the years. Each one has something special about them that drew me to them. Vee has been the one I appreciate for her bold honesty. When I was going through some very difficult ministry moments, she was the one who boldly supported me to the extent I would always walk away confident and felt understood. God used her to help me sleep at night when I knew all was lost. I could depend on her to state it like it was without embellishing or covering up to be “politically correct.” I have another friend, Jamie, who is the same way. I would always think of Jamie as someone I needed to be more like – I couldn’t put my finger on what that meant until recently when I read the book, Boundaries. She loves intensely and is fiercely loyal but if you annoy her, she tells you so, and won’t hesitate to bop you on the head to keep you in your place. She complains that this is a negative characteristic, but I wish I could be more like her. I could have avoided a lot of painful situations if I had some of her fire. The book showed me what it is about her that I was missing in my life. She is very good at putting up her boundaries and not letting others step over them. This is something I’ve been working on successfully as of late. It is that quality in her that makes me admire her so and enjoy her company.

Being a loyal and “safe” friend is very important. This is a rare quality, but one I must have in my close friends. Take Pam, for instance. She and her sister, Linda, became my sisters because they latched onto me during a time of crisis. This cemented our lives together like nothing else. Linda was the kind compassionate one who didn’t want details; she just spread out her compassion on me like a warm blanket. Everyone needs someone kind in their lives – it reminds them of our forever loving Savior.  Pam on the other hand makes me feel like a little a little kid hiding under the blanket with a flashlight giggling at night when the lights were turned out. We laugh, we commiserate, and we laugh some more. We turn everything into an amusing tale after all is said and done and we must put it behind us. She wants details and she wants them now! She makes me smile when I don’t feel like it. We agree and disagree, but she always ends with, “It’s just my opinion and you are my sister and I love you no matter what.” So this is what adoption is like!

Then there is Laura. She was the one who saw how wicked my “interesting” children could be but loved them and me anyway. She was the one that would observe or suspect things and come and tell me. She did it right. She sandwiched the telling with support and kindness. I never felt condemned like so many others made me feel and I knew she was filling me in because she knew I needed to know – yet she never took joy in the telling like so many others. I was never fearful when she approached me because I knew she wore the robe of caring. She demonstrated the Savior’s love for my kids in a way few did. Her husband is just like her.  This is what a “safe” friend is like. You know you’ll not suffer for anything you shared with them.

Chris is a friend who is pursuing godly living and is very vocal about it. This is someone I can tell things to and know that she’ll take the time to sort it all out and apply biblical truth to – no matter how it turns out.  She believes in fairness and remembers we are human and need compassionate forgiveness – especially for “interesting” children! She “gets it.” She can see a bad situation and waits for the explanation before jumping to conclusions!  She is a student of the Word and I enjoy debating with her over biblical concepts and how they’re to be applied.  I would want her by my side if I ever went into war! She still has that spark that so many have lost – a desire to grow. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to friends. I’ve only named a few but have dozens of others I consider kindred spirits. I am blessed to be able to make friends and keep them regardless of time or distance. I was recently telling my boys why I considered Belinda to be a forever friend. I told them that I know every time we went somewhere she would be my protector to the death!  It makes me smile to think of one time she told me, “You never need to worry about anybody messing with you when I’m around!”  She is the type of friend that time and distance will change nothing. We can pick up where we left off without missing a beat.

I have some new friends, Denise, Deb, Nancy, MaryMargaret and Linda who I call healers. They listen, they show kindness, and then listen some more – always ready to rejoice over each little triumph.  They suggest books, give hugs and praise God for my answers to prayer with me. I came to them a little over year ago with a ton of heaviness and over time they were used to administer the balm of acceptance, enabling me to come out of a dark pit that I had been thrown into.  Our friendship has centered around studying of the Word. They are transparent. I like that.

As I look over the descriptions of my friends, new and old, I see a common thread. It is also a list of the qualities I enjoy in my Lord – loyalty, kindness, understanding, empathy, safety, etc.  It’s not very hard to see why I consider them close friends.  Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother – and so are they.


One Response

  1. What a beautifully written tribute to “friends”…I read this and wept. Where would we be without friends…we all need friends. Granted, some friends are closer than others, but indeed a good friendship brings comfort, strength, joy, peace, and much encouragement. Friends are willing to listen without judging, offer advice without being pushy, pray, when only prayer will help, and comfort us with their caring ways. A kind word from a friend is like salve to a heart that has been wounded…and let’s not forget laughter…how healing a good laugh can be when shared with a friend or friends.

    I once read an article on longevity of life…this article stated that women who had close friendships even into their elderly years lived longer than those who were loners and did not know the joys of sharing of themselves in friendship.

    I believe God brings certain people in to our lives for the very purpose of friendship…binding us together, through His love…that we may guide each other through the difficult times. For that reason, I am thankful for the old, the new, and the in-between friendships God has brought into my life.

    May each and every person I am proud to call, friend, be blessed beyond measure…and may the writer of “Friends” know that God loves them so much that He has sent many friendships into their life to be the encouragement they need.

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