Jan 3, 2009

Friendship with Man

Self-focus. It's scary, imprisoning, depressing, and blinding. Oddly enough, it manifests most in our spiritual walks. We know how beautifully gentle Jesus is -- loving us so thoroughly. He's even excited to interact on a moment-by-moment, situational level. (How many of us have been shocked to discover that He enjoys being asked to provide a parking place, and usually answers?) But in our weakness and egotism, we enter into that part of relationship with Him and forget His part in this two-way friendship. Because I am a friend to Kim, for example, we talk both about her heart and my heart, about what's going on in her mind and in my mind. Friendship is certainly not a one-way street. If it is, you've a pretty good indication that the relationship is not actually a full friendship.

I got frustrated with myself on the trip from Chicago, to Indiana, to Kansas City -- frustrated that my own difficulties had been my focus in prayer for so many weeks. So during the drive from Terre Haute to Kansas City, I asked about His heart. I promptly forgot I had asked, and popped in a tape recording of an old album of my mother's: Joy is Like the Rain. It's a collection of folk-style songs by a group of Catholic nuns in the 1960's. And then He answered. Perhaps my emotions were rawly near the surface and so easily energized. Perhaps not. But I was singing raucously along (in the sense of being loud and enjoying harmonies to the extreme - no one else was in the car, you see) when all of a sudden a line hit me hard. It's in a song about the Wedding Banquet story of Matthew. The master has already sent invitations, been rejected by the people who are too busy, and called for the poor from the town. When his banquet table still isn't filled:

When all the poor had assembled, there was still room to spare

So the master demanded: "GO search everywhere

To the highways and the byways and force them to come in

[This is where I burst into violent tears.]

My tables must be filled before the banquet can begin."

Repeatedly, I would calm myself and listen to the tape over, and then burst into tears at the very same line. Over and over. Inconsolable, body-shaking sobs. It was one of those Holy-Spirit cries where your nose doesn't stuff up and you don't have a pre-existing emotional attachment to the issue you're crying over. Just the Spirit, falling...falling...putting a tiny bit of the weight of His heart onto yours. So I did the only thing I could, after recovering from the tears -- I prayed for His great harvest of the poorest and most marginalized to begin, in every corner of the globe. He's going to begin it soon, I believe. I was shocked, not only that He would answer my prayer and give me a glimpse of what is occupying His heart right now, but shocked by the violence of His passion over it, by how intensely He feels, by the strength of His desire for the poorest and the least. In the middle of it all I had to repent simply for my own lack of passion toward this group, because compared to Jesus' passion for them, my own was invisible and almost non-existent.

Two-way friendship. It's what I want. Not just Him interested in me and my life, but me interested in Him and His plans. Wow. That God would enter into such friendship with man is almost unbelievable. But I believe it.


Carolyn said...

Wow, that's so beautiful and profound and humbling as this self-centered one sits reading this... always all about me and my needs, what of His heart? Have I ever even thought that? Thanks for sharing this.

Suz said...

Wow, Ames. AMEN!!!