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

Monday, June 22, 2009

Taking the Promised Land--A Story of Unlikely Friendship

God tends to take people out of their comfort zones in order to give them great things. My friends have all been rewards of stepping outside my comfort zone. The one requiring the greatest leap is definitely Debra.

In the past, I have been very good at padding my relationships as a form of protection. Most relationships I had were based on my expertise in something. I had a definite comfort zone and worked from it. God took that comfort zone and blew it to pieces when He made Debra and I friends.

And trust me. It was a work divinely orchestrated by Him.

I had prayed for a close friend for years. I thought I knew what that meant. In truth, it was a lot about the other person accepting me, supporting me, encouraging me…It was a lot about me. When the Lord brought Debra and me together as friends, it really had so very little to do with me.

Yes, she wanted to know me because of Robert’s heart and hair cut, but at that time, we were on such different pages spiritually. I felt like everything I said was so foreign to her, but, while she might not have understood all I said or did or the reason why, she listened and didn’t write me off as a fanatical flake. So, I kept talking and explaining. Each week we sat in a small lobby and talked. Each week God knit our hearts together a little more.

When our children were moved to different classes, we valued each other enough to keep in touch. Then what I think both of us considered to be strings of friendship were put to the test, and we found out the Lord had not been knitting with small strings but with ropes of supernatural strength.

Debra’s family was hit with a crisis 90% of families don’t survive. Debra needed someone who understood warfare, refused to proclaim defeat, and would not let her be distracted by the lies of circumstance. God gave her me.

All the things she had not known. All the things she had not understood. All the “odd things” that made her want to know me were the very things she needed to win this battle for her family.

At the risk of sounding “sappy”, I had never known the honor or responsibility of being wanted and needed like that. I had never known the importance of being a vital part of victory. I had never known the fierce commitment to stand with someone against hell and humans alike like I learned in that season. And I had never known being consciously needed and depended on by someone like Debra needed and depended on me.

And when the fourteen months of war were over, the Promised Land lay before us. Kay-leb’s mountain was under her feet. Her family would gloriously healed, and everyone else stood amazed. Some were absolutely flabbergasted at the miracle God had worked.

Debra and I weren’t.

I was confused. She was confused. As hard as we had fought, we just knew we would be dancing in the streets and screaming from the rooftops. We weren’t, though. We were…thankful…but we seemed so nonchalant about it. When I asked the Lord to explain our attitudes, He said simply, “You aren’t shocked or amazed because for the two of you, the miracle had already been done. You were already living in the fulfillment of it, so for you, it was a reality that you already lived in.”

The reality we live in.

The reality that sometimes the greatest thing I can get from a friend is being needed…
,,,is being valuable—not just emotionally but practically…
…is having something vital to give…
…is giving everything I have to see her succeed, to see her victorious.

The reality is I need her as my friend, too.

There is no human reason why Debra and I should have been friends. In fact, we laugh because are the least likely people to be friends that we know, and yet, I can’t tell you how many people have asked me how we developed the friendship we have because they want one like it.

What do I tell them?
• Pray..a lot.
• Give God freedom to use unlikely people to build unbelievably close relationships.
• Realize your differences may be the very thing that God will use as a blessing for you both.
• One of the greatest gift is not what someone gives you to meet your needs but the trust they give you to meet theirs.
• Keep the ringer turned up on the phone at all hours.
• It’s easy to be friends when things are easy and Starbucks’ is abundant. But it is far more rewarding to stand in the security of a friendship tested by war, purified by fire, and held together by God.

When the going gets tough, the tough know the Promised Land is theirs for the taking, and it is best enjoyed with friends.

Copyright 2009 Jerri Phillips