Saturday, July 01, 2017

Friendship and Barrenness

I am in a season of life right now where I don't have much "inspiration" to write. The fields of productive and creative writing lie fallow, and that's all right. It's for the best, actually, as cycles and rhythms of fruitfulness and barrenness are to be expected and welcomed in any healthy life. I trust God that other important things are going on in the soil under the surface!

I continue to be amazed at how vital relationships are for living life with Jesus. We cannot do this alone! I woke up this morning overwhelmed by everything undone in my life and knew that I needed to talk to my wife to help me sort out what was important and what was not (she did, she's so smart - and pretty!). I am beginning to give myself to rhythms of meeting with new friends here in Spokane, which adds to my regular phone calls to friends back in Louisville, men I have bled and shed tears with in the trenches of the heart. 

Friends that matter, that count, are not those who tell me what to do or how to behave; they are those who invite me into a better vision of life with God than the one I am currently devoted to and invested in. Usually that comes as we hunger together for God for help in broken places and torn and weary hearts. As we tell each other what's going inside as Jesus-friends, we are learning how to interpret ourselves as we learn to interpret each other in light of God.

Eugene Peterson, an old master, put it this way:
"Spiritual counsel, easy prayerful conversation between companions engaged in a common task, is [becoming] less and less frequent. But when Jesus designated his disciples 'friends' (John 15:15) in that last extended conversation he had with them, he introduced a term that encouraged the continuing of the conversation. 'Friend' sets us in a nonhierarchical, open, informal, spontaneous company of Jesus-friends, who verbally develop relationships of responsibility and intimacy by means of conversation. Characteristically, we do not make pronouncements to one another or look up texts by which to challenge each other; we simply talk out whatever feelings or thoughts are in our hearts as Jesus' friends." (The Wisdom of the Other: A Conversation Between Spiritual Friends, 17)
Whether you are in a place of barrenness or fruitfulness, reach out and invite a few safe others into what you're experiencing in the name of God. It takes courage to do this, to listen to their story - not to fix or manage - but to understand and know the other. When we offer this kind of knowing to another we validate their existence and help them consider new ways to interpret their struggles, sorrows, habits and joys in the light of God's Kingdom. We will find Jesus in our midst.

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