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Girlfriends in God - August 25, 2011

  • 2011 Aug 25


August 25, 2011
I Need a Friend
Part 1
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her (Ruth 1:16-18, NIV).

Friend To Friend
Friendship is the catalyst for every other love and the foundation of every healthy relationship.  In his book, “The Broken Heart”, Dr. James J. Lynch shows that lonely people live significantlyshorter lives than the general population. In other words, God created us to need each other.  We need friends.

I know what you are thinking. Everyone knows that having close friends is risky business. While attending seminary, one of my professors told me that, as a pastor’s wife, I would never be able to have close friends in the church. I didn’t believe him then. And I don’t believe him now. 

I have been a woman in ministry for many years and my best friends have always been with women in the church where I ministered. Have I been burned? Yes. Have I been betrayed and disappointed? Yes. Has it been worth it? Absolutely! It is my prayer that over the next few weeks, we will catch God’s plan and purpose for the friendships in our lives. But before launching into this study, there are three friendship facts we must first understand and accept.

Fact 1:  Friendships have many different levels. There are friends we see occasionally and then there are soul-mates with whom we share everything. There is a place for both in our lives.

Fact 2:  Friendships may change with the seasons of life. We are naturally drawn to women who face the same problems and share the same dreams. 

Fact 3:  We all need friends. Friendship is part of God’s plan for our lives. 

Jesus placed great value on relationships. The Bible tells us that He spent much of His time deepening relationships with a few - not the crowds. His teachings are filled with practical suggestions on how to be a friend and how to have healthy relationships. One of the most beautiful portraits of friendship is found in the book of Ruth. It is the story of Naomi, a godly woman, a wife and the mother of two married sons. 

Naomi’s husband and sons died, leaving three women alone, Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. Because they had neither food nor money and no certainty of what the future might hold, Naomi chose to return to Bethlehem, her homeland. On the way, Naomi suddenly stopped to tell Ruth and Orpah that they should return to their homes in Moab because there, they would have the chance to marry again. Both Ruth and Orpah protested but Naomi was insistent. Finally, Orpah gave in and returned home, but Ruth would not leave Naomi, her mother-in-law and friend. Noami was amazed at the loyalty Ruth offered and together, they made the trip to Bethlehem. Interestingly, it was there that Ruth met and married Boaz. They had a son named Obed, who later became the grandfather of King David. Ruth, a gentile from Moab, became part of the family line of Jesus. Why? Ruth was a loyal friend. Wouldn’t you like to have a friend like that? Wouldn’t you like to be a friend like that? The lives of Ruth and Naomi offer nine keys to healthy and vital friendships.  

First Key: Time
Ruth says, “Where you go I will go. Where you stay I will stay.” Ruth was willing to commit her life and time in friendship. Friendship doesn’t just happen. True friendship takes consistent investments of time. Time spent together in friendship creates a memory bank from which we can make withdrawals when tough times come and we need encouragement. Time is a priceless gift and one of the most powerful communicators of love. When we are willing to give 30 minutes of time, we are actually giving 30 minutes of life. Ruth was willing to sacrifice her entire life agenda for the sake of her friendship with Naomi. 

We live in a “quick-fix” world that often fails to understand or address the relationship truth that it takes time to build a friendship. It is so easy for women to fill every time slot of every day with activity, leaving little or no room for friends. The waters of daily life are often difficult to navigate.  True friends are willing to get in the boat and ride out the storm with us. 

We tend to spend time instead of investing it. The depth of the friendship depends upon the investment of time we can make or the investment of time we are willing to make. I have a friend, Michelle Johnson, who is the perfect example of a friend who was willing to invest time in our relationship. Michelle and I first met at a church where she and her husband were small group teachers while Dan was the youth pastor. We were not especially close because our paths rarely crossed. But when Dan was called to be the pastor of a nearby church, Michelle and her family joined us in ministry. Our children were in school together and we were both involved in women’s ministry. As our paths crossed more frequently, we became friends. Then, during a two-year battle with clinical depression, we moved into the neighborhood where Michelle and Jay lived. Michelle made a choice. She chose to invest large chunks of time, walking with me through those dark years. As a result, her friendship is beyond measure in my life. Friendships take time.

Let’s Pray
Father, I want to thank You for being the ultimate Friend. You have never let me down or turned away from me – even when I have turned away from You. Please help me be the kind of friend You want me to be so that Your love can flow through me in my relationships. Teach me how to invest time wisely so that each friendship is a living illustration of Your love.
In Jesus’ name,

Now It’s Your Turn

·         What is the greatest hindrance to friendship in your life?

  • What has been the greatest reward of friendship in your life? 
  • Are you willing to take the risk of cultivating intimate friendships and of being a true friend? Explain. 
  • Make a list of your closest friends and then picture life without them. What would that picture look like? 
  • Make a specific plan this week to invest time in the life of a friend. 

More From The Girlfriends
Looking for a Bible Study that is both practical and powerful? Check out Mary’s E-Book Bible Studies. Each one includes a study guide that you can download for your personal use or for a small group study. I Need a Friendis available in Bible Study format.

Be sure to check out Mary’s weekly Online Bible Study: Stress Management 101. Enroll now and have access to all 2011 lessons. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebookor through email.

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