The difference is noticable. It's like the contrast between night and day. Last August, the school year began with trepidation and tears. Our daughter was beginning her junior year at a new school. She had left a school full of friends. As we drove to her new school, I knew she dreaded starting over. Establishing new friendships takes time, and she needed a friend today.
When she got home in the afternoon, I could tell from her responses that things hadn't gone that well. Structured classes and being the 'new kid' weren't exactly the formula for beginning friendships. She bemoaned the fact that no one had talked to her. Although I could definitely understand how she felt, I also remembered the truth of Proverbs 18:24a, "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly:" It's a two-way street. It helps to reach out to others and show an interest in them, instead of just waiting for them to reach out to you. As the year progressed, things got better. Solid friendships developed and continued throughout the summer.
This year is different. Now a senior in high school, our daughter looked forward to the first day of school. Not only did she get to return and see her friends from last year, but as an added bonus, her best friend from church also made the transition to her school. She was excited for the new school year to begin. I love to see God at work.
Friendship is such a special gift from God. I think about how our lives are richer for the friendships we share. We can be open and honest with our friends, knowing that they'll still love us, in spite of us. A good friend not only encourages, but doesn't hesitate to gently correct us when we begin going down the wrong path. When I look for examples of godly friendships in the Bible, the uncommon bond that David and Jonathan shared comes to mind immediately. When you think about it, Jonathan was King Saul's son; the one who was next in line for the throne. Because he allowed himself to be guided by God, instead of viewing David as a threat, Jonathan recognized God's hand on David's life and humbly submitted himself to God's plan. In I Samuel 18:1 it says that, "...the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." (KJV) A few verses later, Jonathan makes a binding agreement with David and gives him his robe, sword, bow and belt. Somehow, Jonathan knew that David would be the next king of Israel and he willingly went along with God's plan.
The loyal and committed friendship that Jonathan and David shared, led me to do a little inventory of my own friendships. Am I sacrificial in a relationship? Or do I expect my own way? Am I loyal? Or do I bail out when the going gets rough? Can a friend count on me to share the truth in love? Or am I just going to tell her what she wants to hear? Because true, lasting friendships come along so rarely, I want to pattern my relationships after those in God's word and be the right kind of friend. My prayer today is that I would thank God for the friendships He's allowed in my life (Philippians 1:3) and that I'd, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." (Philippians 2:3-4; KJV) What will your prayer be?