As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. -- Isaiah 55:10-11

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Sweet Gift

We met online. In the beginning, it was innocent enough. We chatted on the same message board. We had similar interests. Then one day, she said something really sweet…

And we’ve been close friends ever since.

Sounds like the stuff you’d hear from a commercial promoting online relationships, doesn’t it? Sort of the stuff that either makes you swoon or makes you gag. I know. If it wasn’t my friend, I would roll my eyes, too. Instead, I just laugh. It cracks me up how Jesus puts things together sometimes.

MaryB and I really did meet online. Actually, we’ve never met in person. We were part of a message board focusing on the worship arts. She and her daughter lived further on the edge than anyone I knew, and I was thankful to have a place that allowed some freedom. People I knew really didn’t understand my intimacy in worship. They seemed to think it was…a bit skewed.

While I was begging to dance like David, people I knew were excited to raise their hands. Not saying raising one’s hands is bad. I do it myself. However, I wanted more. I didn’t want just a God or just a Lord. I wanted the Lover from Song of Solomon. I wanted passion and intimacy. I wanted to know and be known as is meant in the Bible. I was tired of a comfortable God that lived nicely in a church service on Sunday morning. I wanted a God that took my breath away every day at any time He wanted.

I was also considered…odd…except by MaryB, who had the same fantastic ideas of a God and King who wanted a passionate bride, not just an obedient servant.

So, we chatted, pushed others’ ideas of Christian decorum, and encouraged each other to believe our desires were more than fantasies but rather desires given by the King Himself, who was speaking that He desired the same.

I praised God for MaryB.

Then came the gift.

For Christmas, MaryB sent cookies. I sent her a glory hoop I made. It was for her worship, a banner for her dancing. I shared with her what each element represented, and the Lord spoke the rest.

After that, we started emailing regularly. She shared what the Lord was doing in her life, and I shared what He was doing in mine—the good stuff that is because I knew how to perform via email, too.

Over time, MaryB shared deeper things. She shared about her struggles, her wounds, and her hopes. I prayed for her and with her. Slowly, I started to share, too. I dropped the mask a bit and showed some of the ugly stuff in life. She responded with compassion, love, and prayer. I dropped the mask some more. She never budged. Her friendship and acceptance remained steady.

Then came the inevitable. We had a misunderstanding or disagreement. I don’t remember what it was or what it was about. I only know whatever it was put us at a crossroads. We could take offense and walk away, or we could love through.

We loved through.

Now I tell her anything. There is nothing too ugly or too dark. There are no wounds too pussy or nasty. She doesn’t wallow in the mud with me. Instead, she acknowledges and prays. She’s one of those Acts 12 friends always praying for my release from whatever prison Satan is using against me. She is one who points me in the direction of freedom, and she rejoices with me when the prison gates open up and I walk out onto the path God has for me.

Every so often, she reminds me of that Christmas when she sent me the gift of the cookies. I smile because I remember it as the Christmas God gave me the gift of MaryB.

Copyright Jerri Phillips 2009

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