At our church fellowship meeting last night we sang a catchy little tune. “I am a friend of God…I am a friend of God…I am a friend of God…He calls me friend.” It was enough that I was singing the chorus over and over again throughout today, but I couldn’t stop my head bobbing from side to side as I did so.
“You do know what being My friend means, yes?” asked God. I got the impression from the words spoken to my heart, regardless of the head bobbing about, that the answer was something serious. Friendship with God really isn’t something to take lightly. It comes at great cost. It comes with great responsibility.
A story came to mind from Jesus’ teaching about prayer.
“Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.” Luke 11:5-8
Jesus was talking about persistent prayer. The door opened not on the basis of friendship but on the basis of the man knocking and knocking and knocking.
Being a friend of God means that I don’t have Him yell at me through the bedroom window to come back tomorrow. He doesn’t say, “I’ve gone to bed. All the angels have gone to bed. Heaven is closed for the night. You are taking this friendship thing too far!” I am assured that whatever the gap between what I have and what I need right now, God is ready to meet the need. He is not Old Mother Hubbard with an empty storehouse. I know that. What I know and what I do with what I know doesn’t always match up. I think it is an insult to call God my friend and then live my life struggling to survive on so little when He has so He is aching to give me.
That wasn’t the serious bit although that was challenging enough.
God fully expects me to knock on the door at midnight to ask for the three loaves to feed the unexpected guests.
“Yes, but,” said God, “It works both ways. If you are My friend, can I not also knock on your door at midnight and ask you for three loaves of bread for My visitors?”
Let’s be clear – God doesn’t actually need me, or my three loaves of bread. God has chosen to give me the bread and I am to hold it in my hand so lightly that if He wants them back He doesn’t have to prise my fingers apart to get them. Yes, there is a storehouse in heaven but it’s as if God has plundered His own storehouse and given all the stuff away to His people on the understanding that when He wants something back, it is surrendered swiftly. Everything we have is His. It never becomes ours.
I have been given all manner of gifts none of which I own. Yes, I can say that my gifts are well-honed because of the work I have put into practice and perfection. My hard work is what got me my degree. God gifted me the mind-set to do the work. He wired the brain to be capable of making the mental connections to do what I do.
All of it is there to work for Him and His Kingdom. There’s a poem. He tells me, that I wrote years ago, but someone needs to hear it now because they need to be encouraged. They have fallen over, grazed their spiritual knees and to be lifted up. That poem says it all. Dig it out, He says, read it at the poetry slam. Not three leaves of bread to feed a surprise visitors, but a poem to meet the need of a hungry soul.
Yes, I go to God for the things I need but it works the other way too. He choose to come to me for the things he knows I have that are needed there and then. He knows I have them because He gave them to me. He doesn’t rip them out of my hands but asks…and asks…and asks. I get the message and I hand them over.