Alone With Our Friend


I sat on the beach, alone, looking out at the waves that made their way to shore. I filtered the sand through my fingers, separating them out until only one grain of sand could be seen…one small grain, not much to speak of by itself, but when added in with all the other grains of sand, it was a small part of not only the beach I sat on, but the thousands and thousands of miles of sand that sat underneath the vast ocean before me, connected to all the other beaches in all the world…it was too much, too wide, too deep, and too long to even begin to comprehend the vastness of it--and yet God made and placed each grain of sand just so…simply amazing!

No one can comprehend the height of heaven, the depth of the earth,
or all that goes on in the king’s mind! Proverbs 25:3 (NLT)

As I sat there, I asked God if there was anything He wanted to teach me on that day? He seemed to quietly say, “See those waves breaking way out there? See the ones breaking close to the shore? Everyone has a different breaking point in life.” I found that an interesting thought--not so profound to have never been thought about before—but mostly that God should be so willing to answer my question so clearly, so quickly and without much ado. As I left the beach I wondered where such a question, and such an answer, would lead me…I knew there was a reason why it had been given, and only time would tell how it was to play out--being the writer that I am--which brings me to today.

I needed a day of quiet. Life has been so busy--full of fun, full of people, full of travel, full of differing emotions…and today was a breaking point. Not the huge, wave-crashing-on-the-shore, crushed-from-fresh-grief, kind of breaking point--but a breaking point of its own kind, further out, quieter, smaller, but one to take note of. Eleven years ago this week, our lives changed. Our family changed. Our future changed direction radically, and to say we haven’t looked back since would be wrong…because just this week I find myself looking back…

When I look back, I remember a sunny day in Bavaria…when I sat with a friend at an outdoor café, enjoying the lunch and the conversation. We discussed many things, and one of the things we discussed was Phil’s health. It had not been good for a while, and I told my friend if there was no change by morning, I would be taking him to the doctor. That’s the day before the word “Cancer” entered our lives, and the place of Heaven truly became our eternal Hope.

Most, if not all of us, will experience some life-changing events before we leave this earth. It might start with a phone call, a visit to the doctor, or even a kangaroo simply hopping along its way that causes our vehicle to swerve and overturn, leaving us paralyzed for life--as actually did happen to a friend of mine quite a few years back.

Do we remember the day before these events, when life was moving along quite easily…and then, without warning, everything suddenly and radically changed?

I remember the day before, being in Southern Germany, and it is good to remember--although it carries with it many differing emotions… It is good to know that those sunny days are not gone forever when they disappear into the darkness that surrounds us for a while—it is good to know that when those “sunny days” do return, they will not be taken for granted ever again because of the many lessons learned on the journey that has been traveled. It is good to know that there will always be the day before, the day of change, and the days to follow because that is how life is…and that is where I find myself today, and it is good.

The Lord is God, shining upon us.
Bring forward the sacrifice and put it on the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise you!
You are my God, and I will exalt you!
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 118:27-29 (NLT)

As I read that Scripture this morning, I asked God what the sacrifice was that I was to bring forward and put on His altar? He reminded me that it was my surrendered heart, placed in His Hands--as I remembered His Words in Psalm 51:16-17, “You would not be pleased with sacrifices, or I would bring them. If I brought you a burnt offering, you would not accept it. The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.” (NLT)

Why would God want our broken and repentant heart? Why would He not look upon it with displeasure? Why would He not be disappointed in what seems to be our failure, our weakness, our need? Because, God knows it’s in our greatest need, the deepest pit, the darkest hour, that we will find Him to be our Friend as never before—we’ll get to know Him in a way that we couldn’t have even begun to comprehend on the day before.

I loved God that day in Bavaria, where His beauty surrounded me, but I didn’t know Him, as I should have. I loved God, and I would have professed Him with my mouth, but I didn’t fully believe Him to the core of my being on that day. I loved God, and I would have gone to Heaven because I was His child, but I never would have fully enjoyed His benefits on this earth if not for the plans He had for me.

Open for me the gates where the righteous enter,
and I will go in and thank the Lord.
Those gates lead to the presence of the Lord,
and the godly enter there.
I thank you for answering my prayer and saving me!
Psalm 118:19-21 (NLT)

My Friend saved me, and as I spent time with Him this morning, I was reminded of that fact. Fact, not fiction, not wishing, but Truth! I came hungry this morning, longing for time alone with my Friend, and His door was open, leading right into His Holy presence. What an awesome privilege prayer is!

Charles H. Spurgeon writes:
“A throne is to be approached with devout joyfulness…I am permitted to come near to Him, even into His royal palace, into His secret chamber for a gracious audience. Shall I not then be thankful? Shall not my thankfulness ascend into joy. And shall I not feel that I am honored, that I am made the recipient of great favors when I am permitted to pray?…If your sorrows are heavy, tell them to Him, for He can ease them. If your sins are multiplied, confess them, for He can forgive them. O ye courtiers in the hall of such a Monarch, be ye exceedingly glad and mingle praises with your prayers.”

I am exceedingly glad that we are welcome to come, and to spend time in the hall of such a Monarch. We can go through our day, and we can pray prayers all along the way, but there are times when we must stop and just “be” with God, and bring Him our sorrows and our sins, and find the healing and the forgiveness that allows us to continue on in this life… Prayer is a necessity if we are ever to survive this life and not feel like a lost sheep among a pack of wolves! Otherwise, this world will eat us up!

I sit here today with a long red scratch across the front of my leg. A scratch put there just this past weekend as we spent time at my brother and sister-in-law’s house. They found a dog about a week ago, and they added him to their family of dogs until his owner could be found. The scratch this dog inflicted hurt, but today it makes me smile as my brother just called to share about being made “the recipient of great favors” found in prayer.

My brother, Steve, started his day this morning in prayer, asking God to make him spiritually strong for God’s honor and glory. He asked for God’s direction and guidance in his day. Steve then proceeded to go on with his day, one of his jobs being to take this lost dog to the pound to see if a chip had been implanted in him. They had also posted signs in their neighborhood. The dog was a Corgi, a beautiful dog, with no tags.

Upon arriving at the pound, Steve was told that if the dog did indeed have a chip, they would be required to keep the dog. That was fine with my brother; he just wanted the owner to be found. The dog did not have a chip, so Steve was directed to the catalog of lost dogs they had there. It was extensive, and the dogs were not sorted by type, etc…so he began to leaf through it, and after just a few minutes, two women entered the office. Steve quickly heard, “Rider! That’s our dog! Rider!” These two women had come in search of their lost dog, and had found him!

Steve asked them where they lived, and it was not far from his home. He decided it was best to personally take the dog to their home and make sure everything was okay. When they left the pound, Steve pointed out a sticker on the window of his truck. Being the “cowboy” that he is, the sticker shows a cowboy kneeled beside his horse, with a cross, and it says, “God answers knee mail.” The young women said they had been praying for the return of their dog, and Steve had also been praying for the owner to be found. The woman at the vet told them that in eight years of working there, only once before had the timing been such that an owner and dog were reunited in that way--right at the pound! God’s timing is amazing! Knee mail was being answered!

When Steve arrived at the women’s home, he was introduced to a young gentleman in a wheelchair. Rider was actually his dog, and he was beside himself with joy at the return of his friend! He told Steve, “If you ever need anything, ever...”
Steve needed nothing more than to see these two friends reunited.

Steve shared a quote with me that says, “To the truly faithful, no miracle is necessary. But for those who doubt, no miracle is sufficient.” (Nancy Gibbs) He went on to say, “Every day is a miracle, like the sun coming up…but sometimes, God makes it very obvious…” God answered Steve’s morning prayer and increased his spiritual strength ten-fold today! It was a very obvious miracle!

"The things that make God dear to us are not so much His great
big blessings as the tiny things, because they show His amazing intimacy with us;
He knows every detail of our individual lives."
Oswald Chambers

We find that God is our Best Friend when we spend time with Him. We can come to Him when we are hungry, when we are tired, when we have needs. We can come to Him when we have joy and are full of praises and are thankful. We can come to Him anytime, but we must come and partake of His great offerings, or we miss out on so much. Too many times the food is there, God’s Truth, but we won’t swallow it. We may even get it in our mouths, we may even get a taste of it, but then we drop it and run. We won’t allow it to be the nourishment we need to give us the strength to continue on with the race of life. A perfect illustration of this was recently seen on the TV show, “Survivor.”

The contestants were lined up behinds individual plates. In front of each of them hung a large piece of cooked pork. Their challenge was to run over, bite off as large a chunk of pork as they could, hold it in their teeth/mouth, and run back over to their plate and deposit it there. The one with the most pork on the plate at the end of the challenge was the winner. The winner was rewarded, the rest were sent back to camp with nothing but the taste of pork on their lips and an empty stomach in their gut. This disturbed me, and I believe it was mostly because God wanted me to see something of the way of His people in this challenge. Not one person in this challenge took a different view of what was before them. Not one of them said, “I will nourish myself here, on this day, because it will make me stronger later in the race.”

So, like most things, I mulled it over until it became clear what was bothering me about this contest…this is how too many of us treat the love of God in our lives. We see it there, we run over to it, we may even bite off a chunk by spending some time in the Word or offering up a few prayers, but then we run into our day leaving too much of it behind to really nourish us. It’s important to take the time to stop long enough for God’s Love to be absorbed into our soul, to the point of filling us up to over-flowing into the rest of our day--if we’re ever going to “overeat,” this is the time! Then, we won’t be running the race of life “malnourished,” but instead we’ll be using the spiritual strength our Father longs to give us. If we’re feeling weak, perhaps we should consider taking our eyes off the race a bit longer than we normally do, and enjoy more of the feast that’s being offered to us during times of prayer.

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, when starving in the wilderness and tempted by Satan to turn the rocks into bread, said, “Man does not live by bread alone.” He knew of a food that was more satisfying than anything available on this earth. He knew what it did for His soul to be in the presence of His Father in Heaven. He set the example for all of us!

When we are hungry, tired, and thirsty, will we bow out of the race for a moment, and eat of God’s manna from Heaven? It is good. If we will sit at the table of our Lord, and feast on His love--if we will think about Him, read about Him, talk about Him, and bring our heart to Him as a sacrifice of love, we will be nourished there—and then we will be more than ready to run the race, because we will know for Whom we run, and why.

We all have different breaking points--times when we are starving, or lonely, and in need of our Friend. These moments come in all shapes, sizes, times and places. They come in all different ways, events, emotions and challenges. There are small ones and large ones, loud ones and quiet ones…but they come. The question then becomes, what will we do with them? Will we honor them, and learn from them? Find God in them and grow in them? Or, will we ignore them and bury them, drop them and run from them? Will we become malnourished because our times with God are sporadic at best? Or will we find that He is our Bread of Life, the Living Water, and not only survive on Him, but thrive in Him till day is done?

The choice is ours. It was mine today. Would I spend time, alone with my Friend, feasting on His Word and learning of His ways? Or would I run out into the never-ending race of life, under-nourished, and lacking the strength to fully live as God’s children have been called to?

I love the Lord. I love that He gives us a choice. But that choice is a huge privilege--and we must be responsible with it--we must continually choose to return to God, to seek His face, to come to know Him more and more. It is the best way to live this life, because the very One who created us designed it that way. He wants us to spend time with Him for a reason. He gave us His Word for a reason. He wants a relationship with us for a reason…because it is the one True Way. Every other way comes to us from the Tempter, the enemy, the one whose job it is to make us miserable.

Truly I love your commands more than gold, even the finest gold.
Truly, each of your commandments is right.
That is why I hate every false way.
Psalm 119:127-128 (NLT)

Let’s find our nourishment at the table of our Lord! It’s there that we will find true Love, true Friendship, and true Hope for all that is to come when the day before is long ago in our past.

Grateful to sit in His presence today,