August 30, 2016
The Lonely Antelope
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Friend to Friend
Dan and I have traveled to many foreign countries on mission trips. Our family vacations have taken us across the United States … but we had never been to Yellowstone National Park and had only driven through Montana on our way to another state. So when I booked a speaking engagement in Gardner, Montana, we decided to take a few days following the event for a mini-vacation.
It did not take us long to fall in love with Montana. We flew into Billings and made our way to Gardner where we had booked a hotel. The drive was spectacular. The hotel was rustic and quaint, and the people could not have been nicer.
But Yellowstone National Park was unlike anything we had ever seen! The magnificent mountains, the lush green landscape, the breathtaking boulders and the steaming geysers that seemed to erupt in the most random places … it was overwhelmingly beautiful!
And the animals! I had never observed such a stunning array of animals. We saw dozens of buffalo, a black bear, a grizzly bear, deer, elk, moose, and even a bald eagle. But some of the most interesting and beautiful animals we saw were the antelope.
I had only seen antelope in zoos – not meandering across the grassy plains and even strutting across the roads in front of our car. I knew virtually nothing about them, but Google came to my rescue.
I soon learned that Antelope tend to live and travel in herds as a means of protection from predators such as lions. A lion may stalk a herd of antelope for days, patiently waiting and watching for an opportunity to attack. When a lone antelope wanders away from the herd, the lion seizes the opportunity to pounce and kill the antelope.
The devil uses the same tactic on us.
1 Peter 5:8 “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
God created us to do life together – in relationship. But we tend to think we can do life on our own. We could not be more wrong.
We all need connections to people who will point us in the right direction. We will inevitably take a wrong path or make a wrong turn, and there will be times when we have no idea which way to go or the right choice to make. We can then turn to God and to those who hold us accountable.
When the storms of life knock us to our knees, we need friends who will help us get back on our feet again. Life is filled with burdens that are too heavy for us to carry alone.
God places others in our lives to help us see things we cannot see, to encourage us and to build up, to correct, to love and to protect us.
When we separate ourselves from others, I can almost see the enemy licking his lips and saying, “Ah, now I have her. It will be easier to take her down.”
When Jesus walked the earth, He did so with a group of twelve men. Jesus modeled the very important truth that we need one another – we need friends.
One of the most winsome aspects of Jesus was the fact that He was so transparent and did not remain aloof from His disciples. He lived among them, sharing every part of their lives. He ate with them, prayed with them, served with them, cried and laughed with them. Jesus repeatedly opened Himself up to the disciples. If Jesus needed to share His life with others, so do we.
Was He hurt; betrayed and rejected by those He called friends? Absolutely! He knew. Jesus knew the value of friendship outweighed the outweighed the risk. Relationships are risky, but they are also an important source of encouragement and strength.
Are you lonely? Lay down your pride, throw away your masks, and tear down those relationship walls. Encouragement is like a boomerang. When thrown correctly, it will come back to you. Godly encouragement does not wait for an invitation to work. It looks for the opportunity to work.
Father, I confess that there are times when I long for a close friend, but am not willing to take the risk of reaching out. Please help me be more transparent and real in my relationships. Help me be an encourager. I choose now to pay the price that being a friend often demands. Thank You for being my closest Friend.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now it’s your turn
- What are some of the barriers in your life to making new friends?
- What do you see as your greatest risk in reaching out to others?
- What does it mean to be transparent? Compare your answer to John 15:13.
More from the Girlfriends
A word from Mary: I have a weekly Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. I am very excited about a new study beginning September 5, Taking Down the Giants in Your Life. Do you struggle with fear, stress, jealousy, anger, and depression … the roadblocks to happiness and joy? Let’s tackle each one and see what God has to say. Join now and get all of 2016 lessons plus bonus studies in the summer.
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