I wonder: have you ever been alone? I mean, hopelessly alone. Without a friend in the world? Someone to talk to? Someone who really understands. Oh sure, you have conversations, but these seem to be more superficial conversations than meaningful ones.
A few years ago, that described me perfectly. I found myself as a fresh college graduate, all alone in an unfamiliar town with a new job and no one to form a mutual friendship with. The loneliness just overwhelmed me. Oh, the work was great. The people I worked with were great. But most of them were married and I couldn’t see myself forcing my way through their lives just to avoid being alone.
You may have heard of the song called “Lookin’ for Love in All the Wrong Places”. Well, that describes my predicament when I first started out of college. Now, I didn’t go to the extremes that Johnny Lee used to sing about, but I found myself desperate to make a friend and do almost anything to do it.
It was then that one night I finally decided that I had tried things on my own long enough. I came home from work, made my TV dinner, and sat on the living room floor of my apartment – and cried out to God as I ate it (the TV dinner, if I remember correctly, was not very good!).
Then I did something I should have done all along (something besides crying out to God!) – I pulled out my Bible and started reading. Now, I didn’t know my Bible very well, but at the beginning of my Bible was one of these pages called “Where to turn when you’re…” And under the “Alone” category, it directed me to John 15 .
I turned around and started to read. Wasn’t as helpful until I read v. 13 – “There is no greater love than this, this one lays down his life for his friends.” Now, this verse was the one I had read before, but that night it just slipped off the page. But the next four words really grabbed me “YOU ARE MY FRIENDS…” (emphasis mine).
Those four words changed my life, and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” became my theme song…for life! I had read them before, but that night I knew like never before that I had a friend in Jesus no matter what.
I read those verses over and over again that night and realized a few things about them. First, I did not choose to be a friend of Jesus. He chose me! Second, it wasn’t something I had to respect, it was already done. Third, having Jesus as a friend does not require perfection. If you look in the Bible, only two people were ever called friends of God – Abraham and Moses – and neither of them was perfect. David was called “a man after the heart of God” (1 Sam 13:14), and he was by no means perfect. Being a friend of God doesn’t mean you and I have to be perfect.
But God took the initiative to declare all those who would trust Jesus alone for their salvation and would take Him at His word and become His disciples as “My friends”. As one scholar says, by his very nature, God is a friend to us. He loves us with a perfect love and reaches out to us with salvation when we can offer nothing in return. It is quite another thing when someone has such a devoted heart to God that God initiates a special friendship. And David is a prime example: Read the story of David’s life in 1 and 2 Samuel and read his heart songs in the many psalms he wrote, and you will see how totally devoted his heart was to God. Although David was not without sin, he loved God and hated sin. He loved to worship God and he genuinely reveled in God’s presence, offering songs, thanksgiving and praise, asking for nothing in return. God’s commentary on David’s life is found in a verse I Kings 14:8, where he said, “…my servant David…has kept my commandments and…followed me with all his heart, to do nothing but which was right in my eyes. .” Jesus himself even quoted David’s words as he hung on the cross. David was indeed a friend of God.
As I sat on the floor of my apartment that night, crying out to God in my loneliness, God answered my prayer. He let me know that he called me his friend. That night, I didn’t need a closer friendship than with Jesus, and I decided that if I had no other friends at all, his friendship would be more than enough! Since I made that decision, Jesus has met all of my needs and, by the way, has brought many good friends into my life who will truly stand by my side! After Jesus called his disciples his friends, such an intimate friendship developed between them that he shared what was on his heart with his friends.
God wants it for you too! If you cannot describe yourself as a friend of God, commit to seeking God with all your heart.
God protects you…
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for this newspaper and a former local pastor. It can be attached to [email protected].