Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mighty Friends

Yesterday, eating lunch with a co-worker, he saved the very best piece of his lunch for his last bite. I remarked to him and others there that my mom used to do the same thing at our supper table.
Mom would cut and trim around a pork chop or a steak so she could savor and anticipate that last good bite. Unfortunately, my dad would also be watching her do this and I can't count the number of times I saw him reach in quickly with his fork, stab her last bite, stuff it in his mouth and then grin at her!
We all always got a huge kick out of watching my mom's pretended outrage as she laughingly yelled at him "You took my ewe lamb!"
The thing is, that as I recalled these memories to my co-workers,..they looked at me with blank or confused looks.

"Ewe lamb?"

Well THEN I told them that the ewe lamb reference was from the story of King David. It was the centerpiece of a story which Nathan the prophet had used to bring about conviction into David's heart about his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah.
They were unfamiliar with the story, so I gave them the condensed version.
Well THEN, I told them that Uriah was one of King David's 30 "Mighty Men", which were known for loving an protecting him. David ended up having him killed!
THEN, because I work with some really manly men, I began to tell some of the cool things about these 30 mighty men of King David's.

(I try to think linear straight thoughts. I really do, but it just doesn't work for me)

Now, since yesterday at lunch, I have been thinking of friends and friendships.

My devotional this morning consisted of transferring some written notes from one bible into another, and I chose to work on the book of Job. When I go back and read my handwritten entries in the margins of my bible, I always recall the learning that took place there. Much of my learning in that great book were lessons on friendship. My opinion from studying Job, is that he did not have very good "Mighty Friends".

I have heard it said that:
"you can go all of our life and only have two or three really close friends in your life.
If you have two or three close friends, then you are blessed indeed."

Well I disagree!

The 30 or so "mighty men" of King David are spoken of at length in II Samuel 23. Those friends came to him as an adult, and it seems that many of them may not have been present when David became King. They were there for a time, and then they were away. No longer friends with him? Don't really know, but I suspect that they all were still very loyal to each other, in spite of time or distance apart.

That's how it is with my friends.
Some friendship were forged in my childhood. Although many are merely acquaintances, some of those childhood relationships are strong until this day.
Some friendships came to me as a teenager, when my social circle began to widen. Most of those relationships have simply "gone away" but a few friendships made there are enjoyable in spite of 30 years of separation.
In my adult life, most of my friendships came from either work or church. Those two places were where I spent the majority of my time and effort, so we had that commonality.
Living life together.

Some friends have stayed with me over my lifespan, and indeed some of them would be in my "mighty three", but I have some newer friends who have changed me for the better and constantly urge me towards God. They, too, would be considered my closest.
I can not imagine living life without either group.

I am grateful to God for childhood friends.
My professional friends are mighty indeed. Gifted with the inspirational combination of mercy and expertise.
I am thankful for the friendships formed while sitting in bleachers and at softball fields watching my girls.
The friendships formed while in my pit of grief I cherish like no other.
I have friends who have wounded me deeply, and I'm sure that I have done my share of inflicting wounds on others. The recollection of both are painful.
Some of my best friendships are with family members.
Some friends are Godly,..some are hell bound.
Crazy I know, but some of my friends don't know me at all (yet!). There are people who I have a huge affection for, but have never met.

One or two close friends makes one rich? I think not!
I am blessed to have been surrounded by "mighty friends" at almost every phase of my life.

I hope my friends never need me to slay 800 people in one day (II Sam 23:8) or kill a lion in a pit on a snowy day ( v 20). If that's their need, then, God help them 'cause I doubt I'd be able.

Lord, help me to be a powerful mighty friend to those I love and to those who love me. Open my eyes to see the needs, and enlarge my Faith so that I can help you meet them.
Make me "mighty"!

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