I am unusually blessed to have a sister that I enjoy so much I roomed with her two years in college! With just 18 months and a few feet separating our cribs in our early lives, we quickly became best friends. She is smart in ways I’m not, a terrific listener and perhaps the kindest person I know. Our friendship is one of the better blessings of my life and I love spending time with her.
Through the years I have also collected a wildly diverse array of girlfriends who continue to enrich and enhance my life. They’re potters, pastors, painters and piano players. They’re designers, doting moms and daring women who have started their own businesses. They come in all shapes and sizes, ranges of age and personality types but they each bring value and dimension to my world. I love my friends!
But Psalm 25:14 speaks of another kind of friendship altogether. “The friendship of Jehovah is with them that fear him.” Being friends with God? “Is that even possible?” you may ask. It’s not only possible but is also the most soul satisfying relationship we will ever know.
Certainly there was a type of friendship between The Creator and Adam and Eve as He visited with them in the garden each day. And Exodus 33:11 records that “Jehovah spoke unto Moses face to face as a man speaks unto his friend.” Then Jesus says in John 15:14 “You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you.” I love the accessibility Jesus gives us to the Divine.
Being friends with God? “Is that even possible?”
But the God/Man friendship which most fascinates me and from which I think we can learn a great deal is that of Abraham and God. James 2:23 gives it definition, “Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous. He was even called THE FRIEND OF GOD.” Can you imagine that being your title, your claim to fame, the thing by which you are known? I have read that Muslims do not speak of Abraham often but that when they do he is referred to as “Khalil Allah”, meaning “Friend of God” or more briefly “El Khalil”, “the Friend.”
When speaking to Abraham’s lineage, God Himself refers to them in this way, “You, Israel, are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.” He also refers to Himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Can you even imagine having God use your name to refer to Himself?
Looking at their special relationship there are three key ingredients of a friendship with God that I also see play out in our human friendships as well.
#1 A Desire To Spend Time Together The Bible says the Word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision. The Lord also appeared to him in the plains of Mamre as Abraham sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. Conversely, Abraham consistently “got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord.” So they each made efforts to connect and communicate. That seems to be a basic premise for a friendship with God or man.
My husband has a good friend who is a wonderful, godly man. Every Thursday morning the two of them meet at Denny’s Coffee Shop for breakfast, Bible study and prayer. Each Thursday they show up at the same time, sit at the same booth, order the same breakfast and greet the same waitresses. They’ve been doing this for years and by now the waitresses automatically bring them each the “special combo” they most prefer. I love that in spite of packed schedules and demanding careers they choose to spend this time together each week. When we make time for God or for people, we show them our desire to be their friend.
#2 A Willingness to Demonstrate Our Devotion Abraham couldn’t have been more clear in his demonstration of trusting the sovereign will of The Lord than when he took his son, Isaac, to a place of sacrifice. That’s why James points out in verse 24 of chapter 2 in his description of Abraham, “So you see we are made right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.” And God, of course, reciprocated Abraham’s act by supplying a sacrificial lamb in place of the boy.
This is an instance of what I call the “Show It, Don’t Just Say It” principle of friendship. I could name for you many times when my friends have demonstrated their devotion to me but one that readily comes to mind was when I had moved my mother into an assisted living facility, decorated her new space and had worked for days clearing out, cleaning and packing up her three bedroom condominium so the new owner could take possession.
Although all I had left to do was clear out her pantry, refrigerator and freezer, in my exhausted state the thoughts of a freezer packed so full things would fall out every time the door was opened overwhelmed me. When I expressed my thoughts to my friend, Evelyn, she immediately offered to meet me at seven the next morning to tackle the frozen Mt. Everest. In her energetic and organized way she helped make the job much more manageable than if I had been doing it on my own. Her actions spoke loudly to me that day and I was so grateful for her practical display of friendship.
#3 A Degree of Faithfulness and Trust True friendship involves a revealing of oneself, a sharing of secrets and a belief that the other person has our best interests at heart. Shakespeare wrote that “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
Obviously, God knew everything there was to know about Abraham so he had no secrets to hide from The Almighty One. It’s interesting though that God shared some of His secrets with His friend Abraham. Take the fate of the Canaanites, for example, who would ultimately be destroyed. The birth of Isaac. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In fact, it was Abraham’s pleading with God not to destroy the cities in their entirety that helped save Lot and his family.
Even when Abraham failed, God remained faithful to him and honored his requests. Because Abraham asked, God healed Abimelech’s household and because he cried out, “O that Ishmael might live before You!,”God made of that son a mighty nation upon the earth. God’s faithfulness is perhaps the characteristic I treasure most about His nature and it’s also an important quality in a friend.
Oprah Winfrey expressed it this way, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when your limo breaks down.” Not that I’ll ever have a limo, but I do want to BE and HAVE that kind of friend!
Being a friend of God is the highest honor imaginable and yet it is a position accessible to us all. In one of his great sermons Charles Spurgeon once said, “God will save you despite a thousand imperfections but He will not call us friend unless we desire to please Him in all things.”
I do Lord. I truly do.