I think back to those first moments of a new friendship, when my heart flutters like a school girl, for I have the sense that God is intertwining my heart with a kindred spirit friend.
That’s how it was with Ann. We were having coffee together for the first time. She was telling me her story, how she had read T. S. Eliot’s “Hollow Men” in college and didn’t want a hollow life.
I told her I’d read John Donne’s “Death be Not Proud,” and wondered how he could be so unafraid of death.
We smiled at each other, warmth welling up from hearts full of Him.
Then we talked about the topic that was huge in the seventies: feminism. I asked her where she stood as a Christian. She said, “I’m somewhere between Marabel Morgan and Letha Scanzoni.”
I sat there, still grinning, not just because Marabel Morgan and Letha Scanzoni were as far as the east is from the west, but because she, like me, had read them both! I knew then — this was the beginning of a sweet sweet friendship.
We were giddy with excitement, like the characters in Wallace Stegner’s exquisite novel on friendship: Crossing to Safety, which is based on the actual friendship he and his wife had with another couple.
Larry is watching a friendship develop between his wife and Charity, and describes their exhilaration as akin to the behavior of “twins separated in infancy and now revealed to one another by some birthmark or other perepetia.” I laughed out loud — for that is how we as women can be — friendship means so much to us.
Since I have already told the story of how Sylvia, Ann’s long-time friend, moved to town and of the insecurities I had (because of relational idolatry), I won’t tell it again — though it is in The Friendships of Women. But suffice it to say that Ann, Sylvia, and I have been blessed with thirty-six years of friendship. We get together every year at my cabin. They are my soul sisters. I will love them forever.
They have been bringing me lovely gifts, some of which I have managed to lose or break, and I have told them just to bring themselves — that is all the gift I need. They have said they would but they keep breaking their word! They have given me permission to show this little video of a time when they presented me with a gift, though Sylvia said, “I wish we weren’t quite so chirpy in it!” (I told them sounding like a chirpy bird was better than sounding like an old crow, which I certainly do.) Yet I show it to demonstrate the great gift of friendship, and “the good,” as Proverbs says, “a friend can do.” The joy on their faces in giving me joy is so precious to me, it is the love of a three fold cord.
I am aware that some of you may think, How I wish I had this kind of friendship. We can pray for you to find it, but I also want you to see, and will focus on this next week (with a video of Laura-Dancer, Susan, and Chris) how God has given us a gift of friendship right here on this blog! It is amazing to me that we can experience this three-fold cord on the internet, but we are, and we want to not take it for granted but consider how to be wise with it.
This week we will do Proverbs 17 and 18, and next week 19 and 20. All focusing on friendship. On a personal note, a talk I gave on Idol Lies is scheduled to be played this coming Friday on Focus on the Family and I’d so covet your prayers for that!
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
Monday-Wednesday Bible Study
To prepare your heart, watch this:
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts, and our cares.
We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.
2. As you reflect on the lyrics to the above song, answer:
A. How are our friendships as sisters in Christ different than friendships in the world?
B. What lyric is particularly meaningful to you from “Blest Be The Tie” and why?
3. Read Proverbs 17 in one sitting and comment on any verses that quicken you.
4. What do you think Proverbs 17:9 means and how does it relate to friendship?
In the study we are doing at our church, one remark stood out to me. “When you are with someone, talk about them and not about others.” In endeavoring to do that, it is helping me have more encouraging and uplifting conversations.
5. Keller has an interesting take on the above, though I have always read it differently — so I’ll be interested in your take. I see them as similar statements — that both a true friend and a brother should endeavor not to let you down when you really need them. Keller sees a contrast, that friends will truly love you at all times, but a brother will be there for you, even if he doesn’t particularly enjoy being with you. Thoughts?
6. Read Proverbs 18 in one sitting and share any verses that quicken you and why.
7. What principle does Proverbs 18:1-2 teach?
Ellen Davis comments “The price of abandoning community is more than personal loneliness or lack of fulfillment. It is anarchy, personal chaos that eventually and perhaps inevitably becomes open hostility toward others.”
8. Comment on the above
9. Proverbs 18:24 is obviously difficult to translate, for the translations are quite different. Three quite literal translations (ESV, NAS, and Holman) are all similar to the below:
A. What is the danger in having too many “companions” do you think?
B. What do you think it means when it describes a true friend as one “who sticks closer than a brother?”
We are going to look at this proverb in more detail next week, as we discuss the difference between “fair-weather” friends and true friends, and look at our own hearts.
10. Why shouldn’t we be so shocked when a loved one does slip and let us down? What can that also teach us?
Thursday-Friday Free Keller Sermon on Friendship
12. Share your notes and comments on the above.
13. What is your take-a-way and why?