Who’s your closest friend?
Your winter, like my wife’s, may have descended because you lost – through a move, a death, a fight – your closest friend. Or maybe someone else brought on winter, and in it you realized that you have no close friends.
In the preface I allude to Philippians 3:10-11. The full passage is this: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Paul conjoins, here and elsewhere (see for example 2 Corinthians 1:8-9; 12:1-10), power and weakness, resurrection and death, glory and suffering. Inhis mind and experience, the two things are twinned.
I believe every heartache and hardship, and the profound loneliness that such things bring, has a back door. They allow us entry into a communion with Christ we don’t ussually experience in ourdays of ease and song. Most of us have had our deep encounter with Christ, not on mountain tops but in valley floors.
The word companion – a synonym for friend – literally means “one who shares bread with you.” In that light, it’s telling that Jesus, both to commemorate His death and to anticipate His resurrection, shared bread with His friends.
He companioned with them at a very dark moment.
Here’s a simple spiritual exercise. You can do this alone, or with a friend or two. Prepare and receive communion as an act of companionship with Jesus. Drink the cup, eat the bread, with a mindfulness that Jesus shared bread with His friends, including one who would betray Him. Soon after, at the darkest hour, Jesus was seperated from His Father. He was plunged into the anguish of complete abandonment. “My God, My God,” He cried. “Why have You forsaken Me?”
For a time, darkness was His closest friend.
Take the bread. Hear His words, “This is My body, broken for you.”
Take the cup. Hear Him say, “This is My blood, poured out for you, for the forgiveness of sins.”
Proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes, until that day you see Him face to face and sit in the dazzling brightness of His presence.
He entered this darkness for you. There’s no darknessin which He hasn’t gone. There’s no darkness that He won’t meet you in. There’s no darkness that can hide Him. There’s no darkness He won’t, in time, lead you out of.
He’s a good companion.
Your closest friend.
* * *
Perhaps you’re in winter now.
If I could, I’d stand with you in it, watching, waiting, trusting that my presence and silence were, if not enough, at least something, a kind of light, a kind of lightness.
But now I fear speaking any further. Yet at the risk of sounding trite – at the risk of offering cold comfort – I invite you to read on. In the next chapter, I dare to speak of both the gifts and the tasks of wintertime.
~ Darren’s Comments ~
Coming out of my dream-state (what I thought was a horrible dream), I awoke to the reality of what I prayed during that moment of dedication to God only to be true. I was really in a terrible car accident, which only later did I found out the grim reaper (satan) was knocking on my door but God kept him out. It all goes back to the pre-graduation dream I had, and it was natural for me to think that I was still in that horrible dream. Still thinking I was in a nightmare that wouldn’t end, I woke up out of my one month coma just as the EMT’s were transporting me from one hospital to the next, the Elliot Hospital to the Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I began to question why I was here in this everlasting nightmare. One night, after supper and it was time for the patients to settle down in their rooms, I made a prayer to God. I began pouring out my complaints to God and I gave Him a timeline (by morning) for this was of an urgent matter: my life dedicated to Jesus Christ. However, I made this one caviot: promising that if this was real (my bondage within myself due to the traumatic brain injury I suffered), God would give me what I would need to make His glory shine brighter through my life. That night I slept with extra confidence as I fully expected to wake up in my comfy bed at home.
When I woke the next morning, I went through a few moments of disbelief, then the Holy Spirit reminded me of what I promised to God the night before – that I would do my best to let His light shine out through me no matter what the circumstances. It harkens back to that promise I made to God when I was only thirteen – it was a Sunday night service, and a missionary spoke, and he gave an alter call for those who wanted to dedicate their life to Christ. I went up and dedicated my life to Christ, whatever He had for me to do. Back then, I submitted myself to being a missionary when I graduated college, or an inner-city youth pastor. “Now,” I thought in my head, “how are You going to use me? But I’ll follow You where ever You want me to go.”
From that morning, the Lord Jesus Christ did a miracle in me. From being stuck in a high-back wheelchair with no words to speak walking out just two and a half months later. My team decided it would be better if I had stayed there a week longer where I would have all the things I needed, instead of sending me home where I be only limited to an hour of speech, occupational, and physical therapies. And the verse that I had memorized back when I was twelve, when I experienced tumultuous things that were going on in my life, I found this verse helpful: “A man that hath many friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 KJV). That obvious Friend was Jesus.
“How Do You Measure Your Spirtual Growth?” ~ Mark Buchanan
~ Darren L. Beattie, The Soul Blogger ~