Week of April 27
My Best Friend
Friends play an important role in my life. It's hard for me to think of a period when I didn't have several close ones.
My best friend is David. The close relationship we have didn't happen merely because of the passage of time, although that certainly played a role. In analyzing our friendship, the most significant factor has been that we nurtured the relationship. We spent time together. We talked. We shared things about ourselves that we had told no one else. I share this about David because it's the best way I know to talk about my Best Friend in the universe. His name is Jesus.
This morning, I went for a walk with Him through a wooded area near my home. I had a quiet, peaceful time. Of course, I did most of the talking, because Jesus is a better listener than I am. But I paused occasionally. A few times I stopped, and we pushed aside our conversation to take in the wild ducks that live all year long at the little lake. Jesus and I sat in silence on a bench as I stared at the murky water and gazed upward at the cloudless sky. In the far distance, I heard a child call another. Although I couldn't see them, cars occasionally whizzed down the nearby street.
Even in the silence, I was aware of my Friend's presence. In fact, we didn't always need words. Once I closed my eyes and "felt" him give me a warm, lingering embrace.
"I can tell you anything," I said. "You're the only person who already knows everything about me and I don't have to censor my thoughts or feelings."
I like to think he smiled then.
This morning, as I concentrated on my special friendship with Jesus, again I compared it to my relationship with David. I love my friend, and we've told each other many times of our mutual affection and commitment. My relationship with David is the closest human friendship I have. I trust David. He knows things about me others don't know. In fact, I have told him he fits my definition of a perfect friend: someone who knows everything about me, still loves me, and has no plan for my self-improvement.
Jesus doesn't quite fit that definition. True, he knows everything about me and he knows it before I do. As it says in Psalms 139:4 (NIV), "Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O LORD."
Jesus still loves me, despite the wickedness of my thoughts. Despite the disreputable lusts and yearnings that flow through my heart, he doesn't love me less. "You know my heart, Jesus," I say from time to time. But I say that for Cec, not for him, to remind myself that even though the garbage of my mind may be four feet deep and increasing, it doesn't diminish his love for me.
"I'm your friend, and I'm here to listen. Tell me everything." Although not spoken audibly, these words are part of the image I have of my friend Jesus.
The one big difference between my Best Friend and other friends in my life is that Jesus does have a plan for my self-improvement. He constantly pushes me toward a life of holiness.
Today, when Jesus and I walked together, I remembered a poster I had seen in a Sunday school classroom a few years ago. It showed Jesus with his hand on the shoulder of a young boy, and they were walking together. From the animated expression on the boy's face, I knew they were having a delightful time together. That's my idea of friendship with Jesus-simply enjoying each other's presence.
Sometimes when I walk with my Best Friend, I suddenly become aware that not only am I doing all the talking, I'm not even giving Jesus a chance to answer.
Once in a while (not often), I walk in silence and I try to think of him. Sometimes I mediate on some of the words in the Bible that he spoke. Or maybe I ask him to help me live out a statement such as, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me" (Jn 14:1, NIV). Other times, I simply rejoice in being in his presence. Or I may talk to him about the people I care for deeply and who need his help.
My friendship isn't always smooth and simple. Not long ago, we had an argument, Jesus and I. Okay, I did the arguing and he did the listening. I had asked him for something specific, something that would, in my thinking, make me a better person and a stronger Christian. I prayed and searched my heart for my motive. I was sure Jesus would answer yes.
I didn't get what I asked for, and I was angry.
"I'm going for a walk," I told my wife that day. "I feel the Lord let me down, and I have to get it straightened out."
Jesus got an earful of complaints, groanings, and rantings. For perhaps twenty minutes, I walked along and complained. The anger seethed. "You let me down," I said. "I know I fail all the time, but you're not supposed to do that."
Jesus never answered me, but he didn't leave me or rebuke me.
After a while, I felt as if he were asking, "Is it all out of your system now?"
"Yes, it's okay," I said, "even though I still think my idea was better."
He's my Best Friend. He doesn't mind if I talk that way. I don't have a happy ending to that story. No miracles. No change to reverse it so that I got what I wanted. Jesus didn't explain a thing to me-and I'm not sure he ever will. But it's okay.
It's okay because he loves me. It's okay because he knows what's best for me-even when I still don't understand.
After that particular incident, while I brooded, I had to run to the drugstore. There I saw a little girl and her mother. The girl kept begging her mother to buy her something, and the woman kept saying no or shaking her head.
"Why not?" the little girl demanded, hands on her hips.
"Because I said no, and that's all I need to tell you right now," she said.
That incident sent me back to my Best Friend. "I'm sorry. I'm not apologizing for not accepting your decision as best for me. With my limited wisdom, I still think I should have gotten what I asked for. But I heard you speak to me through that mother. You said no, and that's all I need to understand right now." Then came peace.
Because Jesus is the Best Friend of all believers, we can open our hearts to him and tell him anything. Our Best Friend walks with us, cares deeply for us, and wants only good things for us.
[Jesus said,] "You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit." --JOHN 15:13-16a, NIV
My dear friend Jesus,
You're the best friend I've ever had or ever will have.
I'm safe and comfortable with you.
You won't let me down, betray me, or hurt me.
Please help me be a faithful friend to you.
You deserve my best after all you've done for me. Amen.
For more from Cec, please visit www.cecilmurphey.com.
Cecil Murphey has written more than one hundred books on a variety of topics with an emphasis on Spiritual Growth, Christian Living, Caregiving, and Heaven. He enjoys preaching in churches and speaking and teaching at conferences around the world. To book Cec for your next event, please contact Twila Belk at 563-332-1622.