08 Oct

Two are better than one,
they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.

If two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

It was a Sunday afternoon.  I was driving to church by myself.  I had informed our minister that morning that our family would like to place membership at the evening service.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t discussed this with my husband, and I’d forgotten my children were spending the night at their aunt’s house.  I hardly knew anyone at this church.  In fact, I had just started seeking God again, after fifteen years of living life on my own terms.  I wanted to make things right.  I wanted to follow Him; all the way.

But in the meantime, I was still very ignorant of what it truly meant to follow God.  I knew He wanted me to go to church but I was afraid. I wanted to fit in, but I was convinced that if the people knew anything about me, they would toss me out on my ear!  So, here I was, driving to church, by myself, embarrassed that I was showing up alone, after announcing that my family wanted to place membership. 

“God, please help me!”  I cried.  “I need a friend.  I need a Christian friend.”  As I neared the church, I felt the urge to turn around and go home.  But, something kept drawing me forward.  The Holy Spirit; you think?  As I continued my drive into town, I continued to cry and pray, begging God for a Christian friend. 

By the time I arrived, my eyes were red and puffy.  I looked a mess.  But still drawn forward, I entered the sanctuary and quickly found a seat.  To avoid eye contact with anyone, I pulled a songbook out of the rack from the pew in front of me.  Opening it, I pretended to read.  I was in no condition to talk to anyone.  But then, from across the aisle and several rows up, I heard a woman’s voice, “Valerie.”  I had met a few people in the past few weeks, but I wasn’t about to look up.  I didn't want whoever that was to see my tear soaked face, so I pretended not to hear.  Then came the voice again, a little louder.  “Valerie.”  I continued to avert my eyes to the blurry notes on the page.  Yet,the voice grew louder, “Valerie!”

The conversation in my head went something like this:  “Valerie, you asked God for a friend.  Now he is trying to give you a friend and you won’t even see who it is!”  Slowly, I looked up, and from across the room, a woman smiled warmly, waving me over.  As I approached this precious woman, she patted the seat next to her and I sat down.  Wrapping her arm around me, she held me as I sobbed.  Twenty years later, I still remember this precious gift from God.  He used her that night to display His heart for me; His love; His compassion.

God did not stop with that one friend the night I so desperately needed the human touch.  He has brought many beautiful souls in and out of my life since then; a gift He keeps on giving; a prayer He keeps on answering.  Sometimes, He sends a friend, gift wrapped in tender compassion.  Other times, He sends iron to sharpen iron.  Some days, He knows I need someone to listen; other days, He knows I need to get my eyes off of self and listen to someone else.  There is no end to the gift of friendship.  If we open our eyes, especially when they are swollen from tears, and look up, He will pour out His gifts, manifesting His goodness through those we learn to walk in relationship with.  He's a good good Father!

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