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Neat little packages.
That’s how we like most of our lives to be stored. Tied up with a bow. Predictable. No surprises.
No inconveniences. No despair. Precise, clean compartments to slot our dreams, our preferences, our skills, our relationships. Everything that fits in its proper place.
We declutter our friendships as well. How easy to blame social media, but it’s much simpler than clicking “unfriend”. We just stop calling. We stop keeping track. We stop noticing absences. We just retake the selfie, photoshop out what doesn’t fit anymore.
The alcoholic who won’t stop lying. The widow who is paralyzed by grief into indecisiveness. The woman in her ninth decade who feels she’s lived too long. They just don’t fit.
We can settle for neat and predictable in our friendships, the clique, the echo chamber. Or we can choose the path that mirrors the one the Lord took to befriend us. He was such a friend that he took God’s wrath upon himself for our sins that we might receive his righteousness and be saved from destruction. We can’t take the sins of another upon us, but we can make our Friend known to others.
This involves going into the places where nothing is clean or pristine or tied up in neat little packages. This involves inhaling the stink of iniquities, battling the temptations that threaten defeat, untangling the delusions that wrap lives in sin. Because we were once entangled in the lies, coated with the stench of rebellion and sin. So we know.
What good news that we have a Savior who has gone there before us! What mercy that he gives us the proper attire and tools and shows us his footsteps to follow! (Ephesians 6:10-18)
There will be slander and mockery. There will be desperation and seeming hopelessness. There will be grief and loneliness. It will take someone with a strong heart and a steadfast hope, who trusts in the Forerunner of our faith. It will take someone who loves generously with a joyful spirit, who remembers too well being in that dungeon of despair themselves. Who can peer beyond the muddy mess that covers the transgressor and smile into the eyes of an image-bearer and offer hope of an eternal kingdom.
It will take a friend. A friend who is the friend of a Friend.
** Five Minute Friday (FMF) is a weekly event hosted at the website of Kate Motaung wherein participants are given a single word prompt every Thursday evening, which remains active for one week. How to play: write for 5 minutes on the thoughts, memories, impressions, reflections, aspirations, hopes, beliefs, convictions, or whatever, that that prompt word brings to mind. Set a timer, write without worry about spelling or grammar or typos, and stop when the timer goes off (no cheating). The rules are here. It's free, it's non-committal, and it's easy to participate, so come to the #FMFparty with me! This week, the word was FRIEND. (By the way, I usually start a piece according to the rules, and then it develops into a regular blog post.)
Laura England Miller