I had the deep pleasure of taking out my best friend Justine to dinner to celebrate her birthday last week. We sat outside, tucked into a corner of a lovely Italian restaurant's courtyard of limestone, candlelight, and potted greenery lit softly by strings of dim lights. The outdoor heater emanated its warmth, making us cozy. We shared the fresh beet salad and the amazing mushroom ravioli, drank good wine and listened to, and held each other's stories safe as we always have. She and I have traveled this life's winding road together as sisters more than friends, aging as gracefully as we can as the years tick on and the wrinkles and age spots pursue.
We met each other at the ripe old age of two years old for her, one year for me. She wandered into our yard after slipping out the back door of her house - seeking an adventure I suppose, and maybe a friend to join her as she went. She got both that day and I became her traveling buddy for life.
This was just the beginning of our ongoing journey together - we fell in love instantly, grabbed each other's hand and hearts and this mutual admiration has never left. We have seen each other through childhood bullies and teenage boyfriends, parents' divorces and deaths, through raising our own kids and marriages, the heartaches and heart-songs. Our friendship has held us tight through all of life's offerings - the good, bad, and sometimes downright ugly.
I was the shyest kid you can imagine and she was my polar opposite - unabashed and fearless, always speaking up for me when I was too timid and afraid. She was my protection; my shielding, superhero friend. God made us just so - two separated puzzle pieces meant to merge to complete the missing sides - this splendid friendship is one of His grand making. I was the calm to her boisterous, she the voice to my silence and the rebel to my rule-following ways. We were then and still are a perfect match.
I know it was God who led her by hand into my yard that day all those years ago - protecting her and me in the process; for the moments yet to come then and still today. He knew I would need her to get through and help me up then, and now. She is the first to congratulate me on an accomplishment and the last to leave when I hurt. A true friend for the ages. And I one for her in return. God has known all along that we are just better together;
"You are better off to have a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn. If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (CEV)
I hope all of you reading today has a friend like this; who when you are down lifts you right back up again. If not, please understand: God wants to be this friend for you. He already knows you intimately; beyond comprehension. He is your ever-loyal and true Advocate Friend promising to never leave, never forsake and to never stop loving you.
One day, each of us who know and love Him will walk out of this life's back door and enter into the yard of our Heavenly home, and Jesus, will be there with arms wide - emanating warmth and love - ready and waiting to embrace. Your arrival will not be a surprise. He will be expecting you!
Thank you Jesus for being our Friend for all time and all ages. And thank you, my dear best friend for being mine while walking down here in the dirt and air, and through the heartbeats and heartaches. This journey would be so much less beautiful and less complete without each of you by my side each step of the way.
Question: Who is your own soul-mate friend? Will you take a moment to tell them today how much they mean to you? Also, if you do not know Jesus as your Friend, take some time this week and read the Gospel of John. It will tell you in God's own words what you mean to Him - Hint: Everything!