“Friendship is unnecessary….”

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art..It has no survival value; it is one of those things that give value to survival” C.S. Lewis

It was a simple survey sent home with my daughters from school.

I thought it’d take no more than two minutes to log on to the computer and complete it.  What kind of topics did I want the guidance counselor to discuss with my kids? That’s all it really asked.

Drugs and alcohol?  Grief counseling?  Conflict resolution?  Anger management?  Organizational skills?  Self-esteem?

I rated each category: Very important, somewhat important, not so important.

When I finished, I noticed the box for further comments and almost left it blank.  Almost.  It would have been much faster just to click “Finished” and send the survey on.

But I had something to say.

I’m tired of my children coming home from school upset about some new unkindness, some new drama in their relationships, some new friendship crisis.

It’s hurtful and mean and I’m overwhelmed and astonished.

Someone needs to tell our kids about friendship.  What it means. How it requires friendshiployalty, grace, kindness.  They need to know how to be a good friend and how to choose good friends.

How friends don’t steal your stuff and then tease you about “Finders Keepers.”

Friends don’t jump all over your back when you make a mistake and mock your hair style in front of a whole classroom of students.

Friends don’t expect exclusivity and jealously make up lies about you behind your back to destroy your other relationships.

Friends don’t blackmail you into doing what they want to do and only what they want to do with assertions that, “I won’t be your friend anymore unless….”

Friends don’t whisper into your innocent ear bad words and foolish ideas designed to get you into trouble.

What I really want is someone to echo my speeches to my own children, so that more kids know that in a world of selfishness and cruelty, violence, “me-first” ideologies, and cut-throat tactics—friendship matters.  Compassion, kindness, generosity, selfless and loyal love, matter.

Of course, these lessons always begin with us, and I realize slowly, we can’t just tell it, we need to live it.

The friends we make, the relationships we invest in, the way we treat other people, when we choose to make people a priority and service and compassion our lifestyle, when we take a stand rather than follow sheepishly along with the crowd—this matters, not just for us, but for the children watching our example.

It mattered for Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who chose friendship in Sodom, with those steeped in sin and selfishness.

When enemy kings invaded the land and carried Lot off as a captive, not one of his new “friends” chased down the captors to rescue him.  They quickly abandoned Lot in his need.  Shrugging helpless shoulders, they simply carried on with their own lives.

It was Abraham, the loyal friend, Lot’s faithful, caring, unselfish, God-following uncle, who left his own family and possessions and rallied a rescue team to yank Lot out of disaster (Genesis 14).

The mistake for Lot happened long before he was dragged off by the enemy. As Beth Moore writes in her study, The Patriarchs, Lot’s mistake on behalf of his family was pitching ‘his tents near Sodom’ (p. 55, Genesis 13:12).

And while we may not be choosing to revel in relationships as sin-infected as Sodom and Gomorrah, still we sometimes settle a little too “near” compromise.

Or, like Lot, we focus so much on how to prosper and get ahead, accomplish and succeed, that we fail to feed and water the seeds of friendship with the loyal and Godly few.

Or we form friendships with those who will abandon us in a quick second rather than run to our aid in times of trouble and crisis.

What we truly need is to build relationships with truly loyal, truly wild-about-God, truly kind and compassionate friends.  Friends who show grace and receive grace.

And we hold onto those people dearly, even if we disagree or life gets crazy.

How I rejoice when my daughters choose a Good Friend. Surely God’s heart is also happy when we choose to knit our hearts with good friends, those who will rescue us in trouble and carry us back to Him when we are held captive and too weak to fight the enemy ourselves.

Watching my girls, I learn, ever-the-slow-student, how friendship is worth the time.  Good friends are worth keeping.  Play dates and get-togethers aren’t busyness; they are healthy for the soul.

And this laughing with a friend, this reaching out, this service, this calling, this mourning and rejoicing together, these two bowed heads together, and these knees bending on behalf of another are a blessing to me, are a blessing to my children, are a blessing to the heart of God.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Now Recruiting Team Members: Job #2, “Camel Knees”

I don’t think I’m traumatized now because my PE teachers made me play dodgeball as a kid.

But it’s a miracle.

I was terrified of PE on dodgeball days.  Also on kickball days.  The worst moment of every year came when I walked into the gym and the PE teacher pointed to a rope dangling from the ceiling and told us to climb up.

I hated the gymnastics unit since I was the only girl on the planet incapable of doing cartwheels.  I’ve been hit with a softball, basketball, and hockey puck before.  In volleyball, I just prayed no one would serve in my direction.

I was a physical education disaster.

So, it’s little surprise that the other kids weren’t jumping all over themselves to pick me for their team.  It’s a cruel ritual of waiting for some person to have mercy on you and call out your name so you wouldn’t be the dreaded last.

In Part One of this series, I wrote about one kind of person who’d be the first pick on my spiritual dream team.  I’d want a Barnabas, an encourager.  He was a talent scout who could always spot the good in others and would stand up for them against naysayers.

He even had a cool nickname.  His real name was Joseph, but the apostles called him Barnabas or “Son of Encouragement” to show off the great spiritual gift God had given him.

Now, for my second draft pick, I’d choose a guy with a nickname of his own: James, AKA “Camel Knees.”

Job Posting #2: James

  • Must be full of wisdom and good counsel, giving you sound, Godly advice whenever you need it straight from Scripture.
  • Must get down on his knees for you, continually lifting you up in prayer and being your greatest supporter before the throne of God.

James, the half-brother of Jesus, became the head of the Jerusalem church.  One thing is clear about him: He knew God’s Word through and through.

When Paul appeared before James and the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 to present his case for evangelism to the Gentiles, James immediately referred back to Old Testament prophecy (Acts 15:16-18).  He had the power of God’s Word at instant recall.  There was no lengthy pulling out of a concordance or searching through scrolls.

James had committed Scripture to memory and used it to inform his decisions and to give advice to those who needed it.

Clearly, this is a man who clocked significant time in the study of God’s Word and all that time in Scripture had convinced James of one thing.

Prayer Matters.

In her book, James: Mercy Triumphs, Beth Moore tells us the early church called him ‘Camel Knees’  “because he knelt and prayed so long that he developed thick calluses” (Beth Moore, James, p. 177).

James began his letter to the church with a call to faith-filled prayer: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:5-6).

He ends his book by coming full circle and exhorting the church once again to pray with great faith about all things:

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray . . .  Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  (James 5:13, 15-16).

If there’s anyone we need on our team, it’s someone passionately in love with God and His Word, who will consistently intercede on our behalf.

Not only do we need someone like that to support us, we need to be that support for someone else.

It may seem an insufficient offering for a hurting friend.  You want to rescue them, make them well, pay off their debts and fix their relationships. Sometimes God allows us to serve others in practical ways by fixing meals, watching children, cleaning a house, or visiting them in the hospital.

There are times, though, when all we can do is pray.

And we say it just like that—“All I can do is pray,”  as if praying isn’t of real value or impact

Yet, James reminds us that “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV).

We don’t just pray quick and general prayers of blessing, either.  “Bless him.  Bless her.  Bless them.  Bless this.  Bless that.”

Five minutes in prayer for a few folks in a small group didn’t give James callouses on his knees.

We drop to our knees and pray with intense faith.  The Holman Christian Standard Bible says “the urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect” (James 5:16, HCSB).  The NKJV translates this verse: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

We pray with urgency.  We make fervent requests before God.  As God brings people to mind, take the time to pray specifically and passionately for them because it will have a powerful impact on their circumstances.

And pray this prayer for yourself as you have need—ask God for a James in your life.  Ask that He give you a Scripture-knowing, Godly person who will consistently cover you in prayer.  As James himself says, if you’re in trouble, if you need wisdom, if you need forgiveness, if you need healing . . . pray and ask others to pray with you.  It will make a difference.

Want to read more on this topic?  Check out these posts:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King