Some of us are blessed with that certain type of friend. You know – the friend from whom you cannot be separated from by time or distance. When you talk it feels as if you were only apart ten minutes, even if it has been ten years. Those "Anne of Green Gables bosom friends" are priceless.
I wonder, though, if the care that exists between friends of that sort should be less rare in the body of Christ. I do believe that there are only a few people whose personalities seem to fit perfectly with our own and with whom no conversation will ever be stale. But, should we not, as believers, have the sort of care for others that makes them feel beloved even after years of absence?
A delightful day last week actually sparked this line of thought. Now that we live in Arkansas again, Doug has the opportunity to attend an annual pastor’s conference at our alma mater, led by the professors who stretched and challenged us while we attended school there. Over the past five years, Doug has attended three of the conferences alone, and I have been able to join him for two more, including last week’s conference. As always, every professor we studied under greeted us personally and warmly. They seemed genuinely happy to see us and interested in how we were doing. They all thanked us for coming, even though we were the ones who felt incredibly privileged for the opportunity to sit under their teaching again. I soaked up the environment, the academic teaching I enjoy so much, and the interaction with professors and others who have had such an impact on my life. I literally felt as if I had enjoyed a hometown visit that day. It does not matter that I graduated nearly a decade and a half ago. They still know me. They still care. They still have a genuine interest in my well being.
I want others to feel that from me. I want them to know I remember them. I want them to believe that I genuinely care about their lives. Unfortunately, too many times I struggle just to remember their names! I blame that on the fact that my self-centered focus keeps me from relying on the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power to allow me to love and care for those around me. I cannot love them on my own. I cannot show care for them. I cannot even remember them, half the time. On my own I will miss cues and opportunities to extend encouragement. I will focus instead on what I want out of an interaction. Such behavior must stop!
May I become less and Christ in me become great so that through His power, I may show true love and care to those He causes to cross my path. May I leave others feeling so cared for that they feel they have just been with a close friend.