Best Friend Ever – Part 1

Those were the best days of my life. That’s when God’s friendship blessed my house. (Job 29:4, NIRV)

Have you ever met someone and thought, “That person seems great! I want to get to know them better”? Maybe you have that opportunity, maybe you do not. But you notice them and are drawn to them.

Do you remember feeling that interest and attraction toward God? Maybe as a young girl you could not wait to learn more Bible stories. Or perhaps during a challenging time, you were eager to gain His wisdom and perspective. Maybe your attraction to Him is brand new! Whenever it started, something about God caught your attention and drew you. You want to know more about Him. You want to know HIM.

As we get to know people, we find a mixture of good and bad. Traits we love, and habits or attitudes we do not. As the early infatuation fades, we either build a relationship or we drift apart. We go through a similar process as we get to know God. While He does not have any bad habits or attitudes, we do not always understand what He does or why. That can cause us to stop pursuing Him. But when we see God clearly, we make Him our best friend; this is the ultimate experience of far more life!

If God is not your best friend, do not feel ashamed. Shame is Satan’s tool to keep us away from God by tempting us to focus on our weaknesses and sin. When you see God clearly, you will naturally grow your friendship with Him. You will find far more life, just as Abraham did:

Abraham put his trust in God and he became right with God.” He was called the friend of God. (James 2:23, NLV)

Today I want to share four categories of friendships: those that have not started yet; those that are growing; those that are stagnant; and those that are dying.

The initial interest described above is typical for a friendship that has not started yet. You have learned about each other or been introduced, but you have not started building a relationship. This happens with God, too. We can learn about God, even attend church and pray, but we do not have a friendship with Him until we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.” (John 14:6-7, NIV)

Our friendship with God starts when we put our trust in Jesus and believe what He says. This is the first step toward making God your best friend.

The second category, a growing friendship, has mutual interests and shared experiences. You enjoy spending time together and are learning about each other. You both look forward to deepening the existing connections and making memories. Growing relationships are usually positive, although some are unhealthy.

We can have a growing friendship with God, too, as we learn about His character, His view of us, and His plan for our lives.

[Jesus said] I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15, NASB)

A stagnant friendship can be comfortable; you know what to expect and it is easy to be together. Or it can feel like a rut: rather than making new connections or sharing meaningful experiences, you are bored. Whether comfortable or in a rut, you probably are not putting much effort into this relationship…and you are okay with that. It could grow or die in the future.

Your friendship with God can be stagnant, too. Maybe you attend church and small group because it is the “right thing” to do. Maybe you pray before meals or when a serious need arises. But you do not share your heart with God on a regular basis. You do not read His word to hear from Him or learn more about Him. You do not feel His peace and joy in your heart as you go about your day. You are His friend, but You are not sharing your life with Him. The Bible admonishes us:

But this is what I have against you: you do not love me now as you did at first…Turn from your sins and do what you did at first. (Revelation 2:4-5, GNT)

A dying friendship is disconnected. You are each pursuing other people or interests. Maybe there is negativity or an unresolved hurt between you. Or maybe one or both of you are simply focused on growing other friendships. Although your friendships with people can die, if you have accepted Christ as your Savior, you can rest assured that your relationship with God will never die!

Nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39, NIV)

What a relief! Even if you are in a stagnant place with God – no matter how long you have been there or how disconnected you feel – He still loves you! He is committed to His children and is waiting patiently for you to turn back to Him. He will never leave you or turn away from You. He will gladly resume a growing friendship anytime.

In a future post we will look at distorted views of God that cloud our vision and diminish our desire for a friendship with Him. Far more life — the best friend ever — is waiting!

Sisters,
What drew you to God?
Is God your best friend? If not, what about Him or you keeps you apart?
Which category best describes your friendship with God: not started yet, growing, or stagnant?
Thank God for the times you have experienced far more life. And ask Him to grow your desire for more of them!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Rooted and Established

I was reminded this week of the importance of being grounded in love. Not just giving love to others, but accepting love from God. If we do not adequately grasp God’s love for His children, we will not be attracted to far more life. If we have not experienced His love in action, joining His mission will not be more appealing than pursuing our own desires. Without this grounding, we will not understand His love and our passion will be directed at something other than glorifying Him and building His kingdom.

The Apostle Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesus applies to us as well:

…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19, NIV)

Being rooted and established in love. Roots anchor a plant; they hold it in place and absorb the nutrients and moisture needed for health. Once the root system of a plant is established, it begins to grow. Similarly, Christ’s love anchors our faith; He paid for our sins with His own life to offer us holiness and a restored relationship with God. His love enables us to absorb the grace and truth needed for spiritual connection and health. Once we become secure in His love, our faith is established and begins to grow. Far more life is rooted and established in Christ’s love.

I pray that you…may have power. The word translated “power” means “to have strength enough” in the original Greek. Paul is describing a God-given spiritual power that enables His children to do what is humanly impossible. This is the result of being rooted and established in God’s love. Far more life gives us supernatural spiritual power.

Together with all the saints. We are not alone in this pursuit. We are joined by everyone who has a personal relationship with God. As we share God’s love with others and experience His love through them, our spiritual strength and joy increase. Far more life is best lived together.

To grasp. It takes mental and spiritual work to comprehend God’s love. We may have to wrestle with experiences and beliefs that seem contradictory to the promises we read in the Bible. Far more life holds on to the truth it knows while learning about and experiencing Christ in new ways.

How wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. We don’t think of love as having physical measurements, but God’s Word offers us these word pictures to help us understand the enormity of Christ’s love for us:

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. (Psalm 103:11, NIV)

As far as east is from west— that’s how far God has removed our sin from us. (Psalm 103:12, CEB)

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. (Psalm 139:8, NIV)

God’s love for His children is bigger than anything we can imagine or experience. There is no place we can travel that will take us beyond the reach of His love. He has taken our sin as far away from us as possible and filled the space with His love. Even when we feel like God is far away, His love is still with us. Far more life delights in the vastness of God’s love for His children.

To know this love that surpasses knowledge. Human wisdom cannot comprehend God’s love. We cannot prove it with scientific research. We cannot explain it with logic. God’s love must be experienced to be known and understood. His love is an unconditional acceptance of us, despite our sin against Him. It is His protection from what should injure or destroy us. It is His peace and joy during a horrific situation. Far more life does not just know about God’s love, it knows God’s love from personal experience.

That you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of Christ. Paul wants God’s love to fill us up so completely that there is no room for anything else. If we could fully grasp God’s love for us — the extent of it and the nature of it — we would gladly push all else out so we could have more of Him. When I read this phrase, I always think of cooking. Especially the times I have added so many ingredients to the measuring cup that it overflowed! Imagine that your heart and mind are so full of God’s character that each situation you face during the day causes His love to spill onto others. Or His patience. Or His joy. Or His forgiveness. Far more life strives to fill itself more and more with Christ by better understanding His love. Then it can express His character — through the Holy Spirit living inside.

Whatever season of life you are in, it is the perfect time to be rooted and established in the love of Christ. Know love, know far more life!

Sisters,
Are you rooted in God’s love — is it a secure anchor in your life?
Are you established in God’s love — are you growing in your faith and Christlikeness?
How have you seen God’s power at work in our heart, mind, and soul?
How does connection with other Christ-followers help you to understand God’s love better?
What besides God’s love is filling you? If you are unsure how to know more of God’s love, ask a trusted spiritual mentor for ideas.
Look for evidence of God’s love today and thank Him for those moments of far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso
Photo credit: Jenjoe Marsh