Today's Text and Thought of Encouragement:
"The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart."
Psalm 34: 18
"What broke your heart? Unkindness? Desertion? Unfaithfulness on the part of those you trusted? Or did you attempt to do something beyond your power, and in the effort the heart strings snapped? (Remember), the Great Lover of man and woman is always at His best when the lights burn low and dim in the house of life. He always comes to us then...Brokenness attracts God. It is dark, you think yourself deserted; but it is not so. God is there. He is nigh - call to Him. A whisper will bring a response."
F. B. Meyer
Today's Study Text:
"A friend loveth at all times..."
Proverbs 17: 17
"A 'Whole' Lot of Love"
"Whole" - 1) containing all components; 2) not divided or disjoined; 3) sound and healthy; 4) constituting the full amount; 5) a complete entity.
Have I experienced the "wholeness" of Jesus' friendship?
"Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person - having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breadth of kindness blow the rest away."
We were 17-year-olds when we met. Two young teens who had graduated from high school two weeks earlier and found ourselves thrown together in summer school at college a long way from home.
The minute I met Shari, I liked her. She was a free spirit who enjoyed having fun. A happy soul with flowing, long brown hair.
Since we were trying to get a jump on our fall schedule in our training to becoming Registered Nurses, Shari and I had signed up to take the entire year of Anatomy and Physiology within a three-month period of time. Our bonding took place during late night cram sessions trying to memorize every bone, muscle and system of the human body.
After graduating from Nurse's Training, the next few years took us to Los Angeles and the state of Washington to continue our nursing education. Finally, Shari and I ended up at universities 500 miles apart as we studied to earn advanced degrees in the medical field.
Our lives through the years, however, grew only closer as we shared secrets; confided in each other about our love lives; and wiped the tears that fell when brokenhearted.
For many reasons, my life during this time period took a very negative turn. Long held values were rocked by my confusion. And in an effort to ease my internal pain, I often grabbed for the wrong solutions. My rebellious behavior left friends and family shaking their heads. I didn't want their advice nor did I appreciate it.
In desperation, my parents called Shari, my faithful friend, and invited her to come visit for a long weekend. Unbeknown to me, they alerted her to my situation, asking for her help in trying to "talk some sense" into me.
Shari called and said she had time in her schedule and wanted to come see me. I wasn't happy. I smelled a set-up and didn't appreciate my parents' interference. Shari arrived and instead of trying to accommodate her schedule, I dragged her along to the activities I had planned. It was very selfish behavior on my part. But Shari never complained. She never offered advice. She just did what a friend does. She accepted me as I was at the time - drifting, lonely and bewildered.
After her visit, we never spoke about that weekend until years later. Shari told me that after she left my house that weekend, she stopped and met with my parents, to do one thing. I found out that each one of them prayed for me - asking God to help me find my way. And slowly but surely, over the next few years, my feet began to walk on the "path lighted by God's lamp" as the Psalmist David calls it.
The event I just shared with you happened over 40 years ago. But today when I hear Shari's loving voice on the phone, even though time and distance have separated us for years, it's as though we never missed a moment of each other's lives. Shari's friendship reflects the words of Solomon, "A friend loveth at all times (Proverbs 17:17, K.J.V.).
I don't believe there's a better Biblical example of friends "loving at all times" than in the story found in Luke 5: 18-25. The paralyzed man, who is the "lead character" in the story, was brought by a group of friends who had to carry him on a stretcher to where Jesus was teaching. When they arrived at the house, the crowd was so great, they could not even get inside so they developed an ingenious plan; climbed on the roof; began to remove the tiles and then let their friend down through the roof - bed and all. Talk about dedication and persistence. Wouldn't you love to have these friends on your side? The fact is these kind men did three things that brought healing to their friend:
1.) They didn't give up on their friend because he wasn't perfect. They didn't ignore him because he was disabled. They didn't forget him because he couldn't do the things he once had.
2) They "sought means" to bring him to Jesus. This means they found a stretcher. They carried him all the way. And they didn't give up because there was a large crowd. No difficulty would stop them. No roadblock would deter this trip. Not even a roof on a house.
3) They put themselves out. If they had to carry the man - they would. If they had to pull tiles off a roof - they would. Without complaint, they would lay themselves on the line for their friend.
Does the behavior of these men sound familiar? Have you heard about someone else who:
1) Doesn't give up on us just because we are messed up. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5: 8, K.J.V.).
2) Won't let anything get in His way of saving us. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise..but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3: 8, K.J.V.).
3) Turned the universe upside down to win us back and show us just how loved we are. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3: 16, K.J.V.).
Now that's a real friend. The kind of friend that makes you and me "whole."
In the beautiful words of Edna Buchanan, "a true friend is someone who really knows you but loves you anyway." This is the friendship Jesus offers you today.
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that one lay down His life for His friends. You are my friends."
John 15: 12-14
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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