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Faithful Friends

Faithful Friends

You know those people you can’t live without? The ones who push you toward Jesus daily. Who pick you up when you fall down. Maybe you’re still searching for those people. If that’s the case, then trust me when I say I was right there with you for years.

I struggled in the friend department. No, I didn’t do the sorority thing. I was never the kid with a bunch of neighborhood friends and I never took dance lessons where everyone seemed to meet their best friends. I grew up with two brothers, okay. There weren’t exactly any “sisterly bonds” in my household. No mani-pedi dates or late night talks. More like swinging open my bedroom door on a Saturday morning with the speaker blaring to wake me up and annoy me. While I love my brothers, I always had slight envy toward my friends with sisters. I mean, a built-in best friend? Heck yeah, I would have taken that when I seemed to have no close friends or was so wrapped up in drama with the friends I did have. But what I found is that I was looking for true friendship in all the wrong places.

I’ll put it the way scripture does..

“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

And quite frankly, my view of true friendship was a little off. I thought in order to have true friends I had to act “cool”, show up to parties, spill the latest gossip, just be the girl everyone likes. The friendships I had were surface level and stagnant, but the type of friendship I was yearning for dove far deeper than the surface. I prayed for Godly friends. Literally begged God for them. Which is quite ironic considering I wasn’t even living like the type of friend I wanted. I found myself crying while writing in my journal over and over these words: “I just want someone to really see me.” “If only someone could understand me.” Looking back, that sounds so dramatic. But I remember how real it felt in the moment. The loneliness. The hopelessness. Maybe you’re in that place today. Maybe you feel alone or completely hidden. Like you have no one to turn to and no one to listen. Well I have some good news for you, friend. You are not alone and you are not hidden. And you always have a friend. Scripture says so, and God’s Word doesn’t lie.

“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.(Psalm 34:15)

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

The character of Jesus is steadfast and His presence is not dependent on our obedience. Thank you, Lord. Because if that were the case, He would have left my world a long time ago. I once heard a pastor say he believes when we get to Heaven we’ll look back and be shocked to realize Jesus was there in the mundane moments just as He was in the life altering ones. It’s easy to acknowledge Him when we need Him most. When we’re desperate for Him. But what about the drive to work or the walk to class? When we’re pumping gas or in a coffee shop. Even in the little argument with your boyfriend. Each mundane moment connects to another and leads to the life altering ones. And Jesus is a part of it all.

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)

So, if God assures us that He’s in every moment, we just have to learn to prioritize His presence.

I used to take walks with Jesus. Just Him and me down my street. I’d take the time to tell Him about my day and He’d take the time to listen. Even if I tried, I couldn’t put into words how much the fruits from those walks meant to me. Joy, peace, love, gentleness. It was as if Jesus took every worry away for those moments in time and allowed me to fully experience what truly matters in life: Him. But somehow I let myself get out of that habit and sucked into the busyness of life and I’ll be the first to say it took a toll on my relationships. And while I’m still slowly getting back into the habit, man I see such a shift in my thoughts and perspective when I take them. There’s just something about understanding that God knows everything we plan on telling Him, but He’d walk with us all day just to hear it from His children. If you’ve never taken a walk with Jesus, I highly recommend it. You can thank me later 😉

Friends are great and mine are some of my greatest treasures, but we will never know a friend like Jesus. One who can flood us with peace and make sense of our mess, even when we often press our own self-destruct button.

Once I stopped searching for fulfillment at every dead end and wrong relationship, my world changed. My perspective changed. Everything changed.

My pastor always used to say, “If you want to see God work in your life, go do the last thing He told you to do.”

Before I completely surrendered to God, I remember hearing His voice so clearly that I would write it all down in my notes so I wouldn’t miss a thing. The Lord was so patient with me and I’ll never forget the peace that came over me when I finally said yes to Him. Along with that peace came fear and heartache. Thankfully, the other two came and went, but the peace never left.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when I started truly living for Jesus and was obedient to do the last thing He asked me to do, it was only 2 weeks later that I met my best friend, Summer Otwell, who is like a sister to me. An answered prayer. And not too long after that, my two other best friends, Olivia Telano and Lydia Dozier, stepped into my life. It was during that time I learned the beauty of Godly friendships. The ones that are rooted far deeper than the surface. Here’s some scripture to sum up what I’ve found this kind of friendship to be:

“If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10)

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13)

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)

When we get our relationship right with the Lord, then we can experience our relationships here on Earth the way Jesus intended them to be. True friends tell you who you are instead of who you’re not. But at the same time, they’re not afraid to hold you accountable to be the person they know God created you to be. They’ll laugh with you on your good days and love you on your worst. They’re compassionate and forgiving. And they don’t let you forget what God says is true about you. Friends like these are hard to find and irreplaceable once you do. If you’re in the process of searching for Godly friendships, my advice to you is to be the friend you want to have and ask God to send them your way. Then be obedient to follow wherever He leads in your life.

Finally, when God gives you those people, don’t let them go. And thank Him for them every day. You are so loved and God has not forgotten about you, friend. I’ll bet He’s preparing those friendships for you even in this moment!

Elizabeth is a writer for Team LO and is crazy about Jesus! She attends Louisiana Tech University and in her free time she loves spending time with friends, drinking coffee, and leading worship at her church in West Monroe, Louisiana.

Follow Elizabeth on Instagram @elizabethamercer 

The Last 30 Minutes

What do I say? What do I wear? How do I act?

 

How do you navigate these questions when you’re entering a hospital room for what will be your last 30 minutes with your mother?

Covid-19 has rightfully earned the title, “Most Wanted Thief of 2020.” It’s been relentless, stealing lives, jobs, peace, plans, community, and altogether normalcy. Life was catastrophically disrupted. And now, because of an unwelcome disease, my aunt is mourning a life without a parent. No one survived last year without even a little sting. Many entered 2021 with quite a few new scars. New season, same wounds.

Over and over I’ve replayed these questions in my head and their applicability to every season in life. And if you haven’t noticed, 2020 took us through a multitude of seasons:

A time to weep. Loneliness and isolation flooded our world like never before.

A time to mourn. Thousands lost their lives and families were impacted forever.

A time for hate. Not people, but rather the division our country experienced.

A time to uproot. Just about every plan we had was dug up and demolished.

A time to break… OKAY.. Maybe a little too long of a break from society if we’re being real.

Now that those seasons have all been covered, how about we drift toward some positives in 2021?

A time to heal. This past year left people broken. And we’ve put band aids on our wounds for so long when they require a Surgeon. Someone to recognize the damaged parts and know just how to fix them. Let’s face it; Life happens. Jesus heals.

A time to love. If our world is in need of one thing right now, it’s this. Love that is patient and kind, not self-seeking or dishonoring toward others, and not easily angered. Our world needs the love of a Savior, and we are the distributors. Boy do we have some work to do!

A time to speak. Speak boldly the name of Jesus. Speak scripture over lives. Speak Truth. These days, politics or anything to stir up the media seem to be rolling off the tongue of anyone given a voice. But the truth is, we’ve all been given a voice and the opportunity to use it for Jesus’ sake. We can promote man or God. Let’s choose wisely.

Seasons can be lonely and dark, exciting and fun, new and scary. But it’s how we choose to act, what we choose to say, and who we choose to follow in the midst of it all that gives people a glimpse of Jesus.

My thoughts are, following Jesus in each season is the only logical option we have. I mean, following man is a lot like playing a game of telephone. One person follows another, who follows another, and so forth. And pretty soon man has strayed so far from the image of Jesus and wonders how he got there. So friend, I don’t know about you, but I plan to keep following Him.

      

I got to thinking about what would happen if we asked ourselves these questions daily and really lived as if it were our last 30 days rather than minutes.

Would we speak the name of Jesus with authority and urgency?

Would we act in a manner that glorifies God and extend His grace to others?

Would we wear the fruits of the Spirit and go out of our way to love people?

It’s likely we’d live in a way that honors Jesus because our eyes would then be fixed on what’s to come rather than all the world offers. So, what would happen if it all started right now? I mean, after all, time IS expiring by the day.

The way I see it is, if we already have an eternity with Jesus ahead of us, why chase after worldly desires that will fade to black before we enter Heaven’s gates? It seems a bit selfish to center our lives around our wants when Jesus did the exact opposite. He knew Heaven was the final destination and longed to take as many with Him as possible. So, there was no option but to center His life around others. Well, actually, He centered it around the Father, which overflowed into love for others. It’s only fitting that we’d strive to do the same, don’t ya think?

The thing about life on Earth is it begins in the blink of an eye and is gone in another.

I once attended a women’s retreat and saw an analogy demonstrated with a lengthy rope and a piece of duct tape wrapped around the end of it, representing our time on earth compared to eternity. It put into perspective the significance of each God given day. Every moment holds potential to further the Kingdom.

Our days are few, but our impact is eternal.

My Mammaw always used to say, “Time waits for no one, honey.” And boy have I found the truth in those words through even my twenty years.

It won’t slow its course for a heart break or the loss of a loved one. Not for your college years or your twenties. Not for babies to stay little or couples in the honeymoon phase. Not for snow on the ground (which we just got EEK!!) or a perfect polaroid moment. Not to spend more with Jesus or even to share the gospel. Seasons begin and end, but time never stops. James put this in words a lot better than mine.

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” –James 4:14

In fact, David did too.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” –Psalm 90:12

The Bible has given us a direct warning of our brief time on Earth and my prayer is that we don’t ignore it.

Even after knowing this Truth, though, why is it so easy to delay spending time in the Word or with Jesus? I tell myself I’ll witness to that person next time or when I feel ready. Too often I find such comfort in keeping to my circle and the people in it.

But Jesus doesn’t call us to comfort. He calls us to the gospel, which was notorious for placing people in uncomfortable scenarios.

I’m sure Jonah wasn’t exactly comfortable in that whale, or David preparing to face a giant. And no way Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego felt comfortable walking into the fiery furnace.

But despite all the discomfort, each step of obedience brought glory to Jesus. It’s no different for us.

He never wastes a moment He’s called us to. Seek comfort in that. It’s time to make the most of our God given days and live like Heaven’s right around the corner, because it is(;

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that life isn’t always blue skies and perfect days. I think that’s Heaven, actually. Life is often an unsolved puzzle that every time we’ve almost got figured out, someone or something comes along to mess up again. But in the midst of all the scattered pieces, we have a Friend waiting to help put them back together.

I encourage everyone reading, including myself, to sit down and make a list of all the ways you’d live for Jesus if you had 30 days left. Then live it out now. I can assure you, friend, Heaven is not going anywhere, but our time to build the Kingdom is.

You know that saying, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone”? Well, I never want us to be like that with our time here on Earth. Wishing we’d loved people better or walked with Jesus closer. So, whether we have 30 days or 30 years left, let’s live each moment like it’s our last, because it might just be.

Elizabeth is a writer for Team LO and is crazy about Jesus and enneagrams. She loves spending time with friends, sharing about Jesus, and leading worship at her church in West Monroe, Louisiana.

Follow Elizabeth on Instagram @elizabethamercer 

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