Another New Year’s Day, with all its hopes and dreams, was just a calendar entry away…
Reflecting back on 2002 while peering into 2023, I wondered if there might be a defining theme for this next year.
I turned to Jesus asking him for the gift of a word or phrase that would, like a compass, provide direction for me. Such theme-words have impacted me in life-giving ways in past years, so I really wanted to know!
I waited, curious, resting in the sense of his presence that was within and all around me. The word floated in like a gentle breath of air that filled my being with joy and peace and wonder.
As I let the word rest in my soul I wondered, Jesus, would you please show me or tell me more about ‘friendship‘?
It was then that a verse—Jesus’s words—from the Bible came to mind (italics mine):
There is so much for me to explore in the words of Jesus, not least the thing of identity—in the light of how God sees me in Christ. How I am to him, and to others.
It feels like I’m embarking on a mission—a journey of discovery and adventure—with Jesus who calls me “friend” and shares secrets from the Father’s heart with me!
On another level, I celebrate those ones I call friend. I have met them throughout the world— Papua New Guinea and Greece (where I have lived); New Zealand, Philippines, Malaysia, Zambia, South Africa, Hong Kong, England, France, the USA …
On another level I see that Daddy (it was Father God who asked me, to call him, ‘Daddy’) has heard the deep, mostly silent, cries of my heart in 2022. I finally recognised and admitted to him that I have felt lonely for meaningful friendship.
In the most remarkable, gracious and unexpected (to me) ways, he has been connecting me with people who are becoming friends to me. What joy is this!
Even in the oft-maligned space of social media there are those with common bonds—writing is one of them—with whom I am developing a friendship.
Some friendships are just for a season though their aroma remains in the fabric of who I am.
Some friendships are close while others are on the edges—but equally precious in some way.
My friendship with Jesus is a gift from the Father initiated by him. By the power of his Holy Spirit, he will continue transforming me into someone worthy of being called HIS friend.
And out of this friendship room in my heart, I will become a true (and truer) friend to the people in my life and those I am yet to meet.
All this will happen as I keep hold of HIS hand and walk with HIM, following in the footsteps of Jesus—one step at time.
As I think of you, friend, and ask God for a gift from his heart for you, I seem to hear these words;
“I invite you into a life of friendship. Come to Jesus and take My hand. I will fill the deepest parts of your heart that secretly long for connection. You will find that in me. I will not be a ‘fair-weather’ friend. I will not judge you, talk about you behind your back, abandon you for someone else, or even be disappointed when you don’t live up to those unreal expectations that haunt you.
Trust me, beloved! Surrender to my love for you that saw me send my beloved, only begotten Son—Jesus—to the world. I am the friend of the outcast, the maligned, the sinner. I am a true Friend who will lead you into life eternal!
Taste and see that I, the Good Shepherd, am GOOD!”
Written December 31, 2022