I thought it would be fun to teach my girls how to have a three-legged race. I teamed up with Ryann to show them the concept and mechanics of moving the appropriate legs and working together. Then I tied her and Micaila together and sent them off in the yard. Of course Micaila tried to make it a competition, running faster and dragging Ryann as they giggled along the way. I reminded them that it wouldn’t work unless they worked as a team, as one body. Before long they buckled down and started working together. But even as they navigated the yard “as one” they still would stumble every now and then. This time though it was different. Micaila would slow her gait down if necessary and Ryann would speed up when she could. If one fell the other would stop and pull her to her feet.
At one point they both were down but decidedly not giving up. They continued laughing but this time communicating the next move or direction. “Let’s walk!” Or “Let’s trot!” (You can tell they’re in horseback riding lol)
They were in this together and as I watched the scene unfold it reminded me of those treasured relationships in the body of Christ. Those special friendships that are so completely necessary for us as Christians.
“Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17 AMP
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many………….there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 25-26 NIV
In the past I’ve written on the importance of having strong Christian friends. There is so much in God’s Word about fellowship, encouraging one another, and accountability. We need each other as we are all being sanctified.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:11, 14 NIV
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13 NIV
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:15-16 NIV
The truth is I know first hand how challenging it can be to form close relationships that are also in close proximity. I have lots of wonderful long distance friends but moving has revealed to me the challenges of making deep adult Christian friendship.
But alas there IS hope, God has been so faithful. Here are a few things that I have trusted and seen God work through.
Prayer. I know that seems like an obvious answer. But God has answered prayers that my heart and mind uttered before my mouth did. He’s also answered ones from the pages of my journal and THAT is super cool to reflect on. Don’t give up on praying and asking God to bring or use people in your life that can love, challenge and encourage you and run this race with you.
Just try. I have met a few “kindred” spirits. You know those friends that you just instantly click with little to no effort. Those are rare gems. Most likely you are gonna have to pursue with determined, prayerful effort. It may take a few times hanging out before that connection really occurs but don’t give up. Keep meeting, keep talking about it to God, he will prove faithful in your desire to have godly friendships.
Fear not. We are all messy people and to have “iron sharpening iron” you have to be willing to share your mess. Don’t let the fear of them running for the hills, after you open up about something really personal, keep you from being real and pursuing authenticity. This is the moment when we can really connect with each other and acknowledge “I’m broken”. Chances are they will respond “Me too!”
So go out there and find someone to run this race with. I promise you’ll be so glad you did. 🙂