Your Friendship Circle
from Pam Farrel
Text Message: “A frnd lvs @ al tms.*
* “A friend loves at all times . . .” Proverbs 17:17 NIV
My friend, Dawn Wilson, and I, wrote a book called LOL with God: Messages of Hope and Healing for Women. It is a unique devotional that has a humorous story on one page and a daily devotional on the other, and the theme through the book is “text messages” between you and God. In one of these devotionals, Dawn shared who is in her friendship circle, and at the Christmas season, as I looked at the type of friends any leader, any person, needs, I dovetailed the Christmas story into the styles of friends to see what else we could learn about how friends help accomplish important goals. Here are my thoughts:
Laughing Friend- The Angels
From the first angel’s message of hope to Mary, then the comfort, of the angel’s visit to Joseph, to the host of angels proclaiming, “good news o great joy”, every time an Angel appeared, life got better.
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.” (See Luke 1:26–38, NIV)
Who brings joy, fun, lightness to your world? Who leaves you happier? How do they do it?
Loyal Friend- Joseph
The drama of marrying a woman who is pregnant but not by you, and who says it was by God . . well let’s just say the public pressure would be immense on Joseph. He could have had her stoned, or he could have left her, divorced her, abandoned her and no one would have thought negatively about him. Instead he stood by her side and he decided not to have sex with her til after Jesus was born. Most women today would love to have a man this loyal in her life. He stuck by Mary through the toughest of times.
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” . . .When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:18–25, NIV)
Who runs to you when others run away? Who is not afraid of messiness? How do they show their loyalty?
Learning Friend- Elizabeth
Mary was pretty freaked out by this big news so she went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who was also expecting a child, and her pregnancy was surrounded by mystery and miracles too. Mary’s time with her “mentor” bolstered her courage, and we sense that in the words of her “magnificat”. Mary learned much from Elizabeth that would carry her through such a challenging series of events leading up to the birth of the Messiah.
“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son.” (Luke 1:39–57, NIV)
Who has taught you something to make you better, stronger, smarter, etc? How did they do it?
While the text doesn’t specifically say the shepherds listened to Mary, they were the only ones who came and be with her and her family in that manger. Often, that is all we need, a friend to come and sit with us, be with us, and yes, listen to us.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:8–20, NIV)
Who goes out of their way to hear you or simply be with you? How do friends show they are really listening to you and what is happening in your world?
Leaning Friend- Inn Keeper
“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:4–7, NIV)
Who have you leaned on to make it thru? How do friends show support?
Lifting Friend- 3 Wise Men
We all need visionary friends, people who can see into our future and provide practical help to us to walk out God’s best plan for our lives. The wise men came with gift Christ would need in his future; and their coming also through the evil king off track so the family could flee to safety.
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” (Matthew 2:1–12, NIV)
Who has tangibly supplied a need to lift you? Who has handed back your hope? How else can friends show practical help? What kind of friend do you most need now?
To have a friend, be a friend. When we give, God boomerangs the blessings friendships bring back to us when we most need them.
Loving Friend: Jesus is all these. He is “with us”
Which face of friendship, what trait of God, do you need with you during this holiday season and on into the New Year?
Talk to Jesus about it—after all he is your friend!