At regular intervals, I have a telephone conversation with my lifelong friend in the Netherlands. Our loyalty to each other has been solid since our high school years. Even my move to another part of the world had no bearing on it. Admittedly, the difference in time zones and our busy schedules prevent us from talking to each other as often as we would like. Yet, in spite of these restrictions, it seems as if our conversation continues uninterruptedly.
It feels strange to analyze a friendship that is so natural and meaningful. But if I were to identify the most special aspect of our friendship, it is my friend's unconditional support. She does not judge or hold back. Rather, she shares her true self and listens to me with an open heart. Whereas her practical advice is impressive, she speaks her most enduring words when we are both at a loss. "I don't know how to help you, but the Spirit will make you aware when you must act and what you must do."
Truly, my friend is a blessing. But to my astonishment, the Word of God revealed a much greater blessing to me. The Lord Himself is my Friend!
Exodus 33:11a – The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. (NIV 2011)
When I first read this verse, I could hardly believe that He could be my friend, too. The Lord is holy, majestic, and splendid. I am sinful, and often scared. How will I ever be able to look at Him without turning away my eyes in embarrassment and bowing my head in reverence?
But as I contemplated the Scriptures under the guidance of the Spirit, it became clear to me. The reason why we are afraid of our Lord has been lifted. In Jesus, He welcomes into His presence all those who acknowledge their failings. Jesus' words to the paralyzed man whom He healed are clear: "Friend, your sins are forgiven." (Luke 5:20b NIV)
Obviously, the Lord is not a Friend like my friend in the Netherlands. We cannot approach Him casually or speak to Him irreverently. On the other hand, our conversations with the Lord have no restrictions. He is involved in all the details of our lives. He is never at a loss, as He already knows the solution. He is always near to those who call on Him, and He never slumbers or sleeps.
Through our prayer, we enter into a conversation with our Friend. He lends His ear to our joys and sorrows. He reassures us that He listens with a forgiving heart. He answers by giving us peace and strength to keep going. After a conversation with Him, we continue to be surrounded by His love. We feel a smile on our face. We have a trusted Friend, Who will be loyal to us throughout all the events of our lives. And when our earthly journey has come to an end, He will graciously admit us to His uninterrupted presence.
Prayer: Dear Lord in heaven, we thank You for being our trusted Friend. We also thank You for Your Spirit, Who teaches us to communicate properly with You. Help us to keep praying as You prepare us for an eternity of perfect fellowship with You and Your people. Amen.
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