Reaching Out

I once knew a man
Named Johnny McGee.
He lived down the road
A couple houses from me.

He worked hard in the week,
But weekend parties didn’t end.
He had so much money
That he was eager to spend.

His house was quite grand;
His car was the best,
On his property: a boat and more
Grown-up toys filled the rest.

He was that man
That men wanted to be,
And women loved to be with
To live frivolously.

After a few years
Watching this week after week,
I noticed action was gone.
Things seemed to look bleak.

I wondered what happened;
Why the house had no noise.
Where were the people
Who played with the toys.

The grass grew tall
Around the house in the lawn.
The boat no longer moved.
The parties were gone.

The quiet was quite nice
But yet unsettling too.
Were things going okay
For Johnny and his crew?

I prayed for my neighbor,
Then I wanted to see
What may have happened
To Johnny McGee.

I took a deep breath
And walked to his place.
I knocked on the door
To see him face to face.

A grouchy voice hollered,
“What?” through the screen door.
I entered into darkness
And saw him sitting on the floor.

“What do YOU want?”
He asked without thought.
“No one comes here anymore!”
He seemed angry and distraught.

He looked thin and sad.
This couldn’t be the same man.
He wasn’t laughing anymore,
And had lost his golden tan.

“I live a few houses down,” I said.
“We’ve met a time or two before,
I wondered if you were ok?
I hadn’t seen you anymore.”

“I know who you are,”
He said with some pride
“You’re that pastor that prays.
We all hear you outside”

He grumbled, ” Why do you care?
All my friends have all gone.
Nothing matters anymore
And everything’s gone wrong.”

Suddenly he began to ramble
Like he hadn’t spoken for years.
And as he shared about his life
I noticed his eyes fill with tears.

“I thought I had it all,” he began,
“The joy that money can bring.
But now it doesn’t have a spark,
It doesn’t mean a thing.

One day I lost it all.
I made a wrong choice.
Lost all of my hope.”
He began to clear his voice.

“I don’t know why I’m saying this
I don’t really know you well.
But I feel I need to speak,
I need someone to tell.

I was driving too fast
Around the bend down the way.
And I lost control of the car
And I crashed it that day.”

He stared in the air
Perhaps remembering the minute
When he rolled his car
And his girlfriend was in it.

I had heard about that crash
Someone told me the next day.
I didn’t think on it more
Now I didn’t know what to say.

“I lost the girl I wanted to marry
The girl who brought me life.
What was my purpose now?
I killed my future wife.”

Silence entered into the room
I struggled with words to say
Suddenly a thought hit me
And I began it this way,

“I’m sorry for your loss.
I’m sorry for your pain.
I’m sorry nothing seems right,
And your life seems insane.

But the Lord loves you dearly.
He knew how this would end.
He knew that you needed hope.
He knew you would need a friend.”

I reached my hand out to him.
He got onto his feet.
He hugged me in tears,
Expressing his hurt and defeat.

That was ONE moment
Of many times we would share.
He opened up more each time
Realizing someone did care.

One day he met someone
Who knew him better than me.
That someone was the Lord
Who eventually set him free.

And in time he met another
Who shared his hopes and life.
That was the time I married them
And they became husband and wife.

Take the time to listen,
Take the time for prayer.
Someone might need to know
They are worthy enough for you to care.

I now know a family
Whose last name is McGee
They live down the road
A couple houses from me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Do You Call Friend?

A friend is a person that laughs with you about nothing in particular, hands you money when you forget yours, stands by you when you’re having a tough day and believes the best in you.  A friend will overlook your faults, encourage you in your strengths and can sit in silence doing absolutely nothing. And even if you haven’t seen each other in years you can continue where you left off as if it was only moments ago.

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John 15:13 states: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friend.(ASV)

That is intense love; intense friendship. Though laying down one’s life is friendship to the extreme, what about laying down one’s wants or one’s “right” to be right for the sake of a friend? It’s called selflessness. It’s called sacrifice. It’s called friendship.

Because the word is so loosely used I am sure many people who call one another friends don’t come under that description. It’s because none of us are perfect; therefore, our version of friendship is tainted. It can be vibrant one day but dark the next. Do you remember hearing, “you’re not my friend anymore” on the playground when you were a kid? It was because a child didn’t get their way and didn’t understand the meaning of friendship.

But being a friend to someone sometimes means preferring another before you. Consider David and Jonathan. Jonathan was the son of King Saul but preferred David above his own status, even as far as saving David’s life. He partnered with him, following his lead knowing that David was the one who was anointed to be king instead of him.

True friendship is necessary for our well-being. We need each other.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

The Bible even mentions one person from the Old Testament whom the Lord considered to be HIS friend. This person believed God’s word regardless of what he saw. He trusted God. Friendship involves trust.

“And so it happened just as the Scriptures say. ‘Abraham believed God and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ He was even called the friend of God.” James 2:23 (NLT)

We tend to use the term so lightly. How many Facebook or social media friends do you have? Do you really know them or are some of them just friends of friends? Some people in our lives are acquaintances, while other people have a closer relationship with us. Those are the people that we might share our personal life experiences with. Finally there is that one person or maybe a couple people who will stick closer than a brother.

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverb 18:24 (NIV)

Jesus can be that friend. He HAD those friends. During his time on this earth many people followed him, as we would follow a famous person today. His name had become well-known. People wanted to see the miracles they had heard about.

Then there were those who actually believed his words, got baptized and got to know him. Of that group he surely had some trusted friends. I believe a few of those may have included Mary, Martha and their brother, Lazarus.

Jesus handpicked twelve people he called his disciples who followed him closer than the others. I find it interesting that one so close to him could betray him. Perhaps he never considered Jesus to be a friend and perhaps he didn’t even believe his words.

Then there were three people of whom he entrusted his deepest secrets and experiences; Peter, James and John. Finally we come across one who seemed to be Jesus’ closest friend, John, who the Bible describes as the one whom Jesus loved.

I often wonder if it was John’s love and surrender to his savior and HIS desire to get closer to the Lord that gave the appearance of Jesus loving him more. If John did write the well-known Gospel of John did he write “the one whom Jesus loved” because of HIS own commitment to Christ? Was it that sacrificial friendship that John had for Jesus that drew Christ to him? Jesus must have understood his heart as he trusted John even at the cross, asking him to take care of his mother in his absence.

John was the only disciple (other than Judas Iscariot who took his own life) who was not martyred for Christ. But John did not escape trials or even torture for his Lord. As Christ died for his disciples, they also gave their lives up for him, which makes the verse, “giving your life for a friend,” even more meaningful. And people give their lives daily for Jesus today, through their life and even to their death.

Jesus did not take friendship lightly and stated, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 (ESV)

He not only was he calling the people of that era friends, he was saying the same thing to us today. He says in John 17:20, “I’m not praying only for them. I’m also praying for those who will believe in me through their message.” (GWT)

He sacrificed his life for each of us before we even knew him, before we would consider the fact that we were lost in sin, or that the God of creation cared about us individually.

He calls us friends because he loves us with undying love. And he never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He loved us before we first love him. He will stand by us, support us, cheer for us, encourage us, pray for us, think the best about us (even when we mess up) and has already died for us, rose again for us and one day is coming back for us.

Can there be a better friend than that? Who is that friend that sticks closer than a brother? His name is Jesus. And he chooses YOU to be his friend.

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