Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends
“… that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you …” John 17:21a, (NIV)
Have you ever wondered why we need each other? Why we crave relationships yet find it hard to build the kind we long for?
My craving for closer friendships surfaced as I sat across the table listening to the sounds of laughter and admiring the bond between two women I’d met at a lunch. What they had was uncommon.
The way they loved each other, how well they knew each other and how much they enjoyed each other reminded me of a Hallmark commercial. But I wasn’t watching television. This was real life.
And when I asked how long they’d known each other, they replied, “More than 60 years.”
More than 60 years? Now I was more interested in listening than eating lunch. So I put down my fork and picked up a pen like a journalist and tried to think of as many questions as I could. How had they met? What had they done to build a lifelong friendship? What moments and memories filled all those years and kept their hearts so closely knit together? What’s their secret?
Here’s what I discovered:
They were intentional about making their friendship last because it mattered to them.
They became friends in grade school, but their friendship grew and continued long after they both married their high school sweethearts, who played football together.
Things had to be planned and time together had to be priority.
Their families vacationed together for years. And when they were young and had little money, they’d all get together for a meal while the kids played in the yard. But as their kids got older it became more challenging, so they’d get together and play cards once a week — a tradition that was still going strong.
They determined early on they would be there for each other no matter what.
These two lifelong friends were now widowed and counted on each other for companionship and laughter, weekly shopping adventures and everything in between. And they had an understanding between them. If one of them starts feeling down she’ll call the other and say, “Hey, I need to get out of the house.” And then they go do something together.
I thought about how different our generation is, how busy we are. How much more we rely on screen time more than face-to-face time. And a twinge of sadness came over me. Would there be anyone in my life I would have known for 40 or 50 years, much less 60 years, when I’m 70 or 80 years old?
Besides my nuclear family, which friend will be able to finish my sentences? Who will know me better than I know myself?
From the beginning of time, God created us to be in relationship — with Him and each other.
Designed in His image, our need for connection comes from God, who has always been in community: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ final prayer for His friends in today’s key verse challenges me. In it, He prays they will know the Father the way He does, and that the world would know His love because of their love for one another. And in Jesus’ prayer we find His heart’s desire for us to be closely connected with each other:
“… that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:21a).
How can we do this better? Maybe we can be creative and get together for lunch during a busy workday, or meet to plan menus for our families each week, do laundry at one of our houses, or take turns cleaning out each other’s closets or running errands together.
That was their secret. They wanted to be together and so they made sure they were.
Dear Lord, the longer I live, the harder it seems to build close friendships. With family and work, and all I have on my plate, intimate friendships drop to the bottom of my priorities. And yet I know deep friendships are part of what You want for me. Show me how to get creative, find a new starting point and be intentional by reaching out to a friend this week. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY: