1 John 4:11 – Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (NIV 2011)
Why is it that here in North America, a gift of flowers is reserved for Mothers Day, romantic occasions, or perhaps a sick female friend? We rarely give flowers to a man, except at his funeral — unless he's a horticulturist by trade. In England and Europe, flowers are given for any occasion or no occasion at all, just as a simple act of friendship.
This spring, my daughter took me to the annual Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa, Ontario. During World War II, Canadian forces led the liberation of the Netherlands, and Canada hosted the Dutch royal family in exile. At the end of the war, the Netherlands presented Canada with a thank-you gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs. More bulbs followed, and this year, Canada's 150th anniversary, there were more than a million flowers on display in our nation's capital city.
The many beds of tulips, in every colour imaginable, were gorgeous. Bright colours are so welcome to us in the north after a long, cold, monochrome winter. Waves of different shades of red, pink, yellow, orange, purple, white, and even black flowers delighted all ages. Hundreds of thousands of visitors posed for pictures against a background of flowers swaying gently in the breeze. As I wandered about, I thought that God was surely smiling happily when He created flowers for us!
Message boards explained that the tulips symbolize the friendship between Canada and the Netherlands. The Dutch have never forgotten their gratitude to Canadians in more than seventy years. Spring bulbs that multiply and reappear year after year are indeed "the gift that keeps on giving", yet still, the Dutch royal family sends more each year.
The Bible has a lot to say about friendship. King David and Jonathan swore friendship with each other in the name of the Lord. Job spent a great deal of time listening to his friends' advice. God spoke to Moses face to face as one speaks to a friend, and Abraham, too, was called God's friend.
Proverbs 18:24 – One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (NIV 2011)
That friend is none other than Jesus. We've all heard the saying, "A friend in need is a friend indeed", and Jesus is just such a true friend who helps us when we really need help. When we ask Him to come into our life, we're adopted into God's family, and Jesus becomes our Brother. He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Friends, if you don't know Jesus, I encourage you to welcome Him into your heart today. Make Him your best friend. He doesn't need anything from us apart from our love and obedience. He promises that one day, we'll go to heaven and live with Him forever. What more could you want from a friend?
Prayer: Father, we all need a friend. We confess that we don't spend as much time with You as we do with others. We neglect to show both You and others our appreciation. We're often guilty of being a "fair-weather friend". Help us to love one another as You love us, and help us to show our love and gratitude to You by being obedient. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power" (Lyrics)