Friday, August 30, 2013

Forever Friends - An Eternal Connection

Time never changes a Christian friendship
 Glenn and I have been Christians for 42 years now.  Our journey began, in earnest, on the campus of The Ohio State University where we had an appointment with God through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.  Three months later, we were married.  Not only has this been an adventure in growing in the Lord, but along the way, we have made forever friends.  Though we are miles apart and years removed from daily contact, we are not at all strangers because we share a common bond - the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
     With the advent of Facebook, I eagerly signed up to keep in touch with our children and be able to see pictures of our grandchildren.  The bonus has come with the ability to connect with high school friends, find out what is happening in my home town, connect with family I have not seen in a while and once again, to fellowship long distance with those we met in various churches whom we have not seen for a long time.  I am amazed that neither time nor distance has diminished our friendship in any way.  Instead, we can encourage one another in the ministries and places where God has led us to be.  I see Facebook as a place to encourage others, share our faith, and pray for one another.  However, at the time when God moved us away from so many of our friends, family and church fellowship, I wondered why Lord?
     In the Book of Acts, the Apostle Peter boldly proclaimed the Gospel to the assembled Jews who had come from other countries to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2).  As a result of his emboldened preaching, 3,000 were added to the church that day.  Those people were to return home changed by the message of salvation they heard.  In turn, they shared their faith.  Then, when Saul of Tarsus began to persecute believers in Jerusalem (Acts 8), many more were scattered.  We read in chapter 8:4:  "Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word."  Among those who left Jerusalem was Phillip who went into Samaria and shared God's Gospel message there.  From there, the Lord led him to Gaza to share the Good News with an Ethopian Eunich.  This man, also, came to the knowledge of his Savior and Lord.
     Of course, we are all familiar with what happened to Saul of Tarsus.  He met the Lord on the road to Damascus and had a mighty encounter with Jesus Christ which turned his life upside down.  This life changing event would lead Paul to become a missionary to the Gentile world and his travels are recorded throughout the book of Acts.
     All of this has been stated to point to one conclusion:  God's plans for our lives may lead us in many different directions but the bond of the Holy Spirit which we share in Christ is eternal.  Therefore, we are what I call "Forever Friends in Christ".  Time, distance, location cannot separate us from the love of Christ nor can it separate us from loving one another in Him.
     I have a dear friend whose family moved away many years ago.  However, we are still in touch and pray for one another.  God is using her mightily in her community as she serves the Lord.  She is a writer, photographer and a blessing.  A couple we met in our church in Ohio now live in Colorado ministering before the Lord and blessing the lives of others as he conducts funeral services and comforts families there.  Our music director and his wife from our church in Ohio now live in another state where he continues to lift the Lord  through music.  The list goes on and on.
     God's purposes are not always known to us and we grieve when a friend moves away.  However, I can say from experience and recent contact with these friends that nothing has changed.  God scattered them for His glory to take His Word to other areas of the world and nation.  Nevertheless, our eternal bond in Christ is the same and we pick up where we left off each time we connect.  Genuine faith in Jesus Christ rises above all obstacles, and one day, we will all be reunited again in heaven before the Face of God.  What a great reunion we will share there!
     Social media often gets a bad rap for being a place to share trivial information.  However, I have found it a place to minister the Gospel, encourage my Christian friends whom I have been able to connect with again and to meet new Christian friends from around the nation and world whom I share common values with that we may glorify the Lord together.
     Perhaps you have had to move away from friends and family as I did.  Or maybe some of your closest Christian friends have moved away.  Take heart.  Remember the Scripture is filled with God relocating His children that others might be reached with the message of the Gospel.  Likewise, do not fear that your friends will forget you.  We are forever friends when Jesus Christ is at the center of our lives and nothing will ever change that.  Be comforted in knowing this!  Selah!

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