Ah, the blessedness of sharing
secret thoughts with a "friend indeed"!
Ah, the sunshine brought into a dreary day
at the sight of a beloved face!
To release our store of frustrations
and, for a time, slacken our pace.
When we can share our faults and failures
with an understanding friend
And speak out on things that irritate
and frustrate our more human side.
Somehow, those endless problems,
at least for a time, seem to come to an end.
The imperfection in others fades into the background;
in its place, sympathy abides.

What is of more value
than having a trusted friend, always sincere.
Who sees our faults, knows our weaknesses
and is still able to understand?
Yet how many times we take them for granted,
forgetting they are there.
Thank God for friends, who always come in love,
without motive, with no demand.

(Poem motivated by Myrtle Lee Venters who became my friend
when I was about five years old,
and she was expecting her first child.) Myrtle was
85 on May 27, 2004.

Everyone needs a good friend; someone who will just "be there"
when they need a hug, a sympathetic shoulder, an understanding ear
 or a voice. Someone aptly said, "A friend is someone who knows
 your song and can sing it back to you when you forget the words."

Ideally, a friend would have thoughts that came through our
mind channel. They would also understand us, be compassionate
about our causes and always be supportive and protective.
 Realistically, that criteria is impossible. Our friendships would
be much more satisfying if we came to that conclusion early on
 in the relationship. God is very creative and made us all unique.
Though we may find many pleasant similarities in a compatible friend,
we are not clones nor do we have a clone. God didn't make an
 accident when we created individuality and that is what makes
 us so interesting to each other.

The Bible tells of the friendship of David and Jonathan who had such diverse backgrounds that it would seem there would be no common ground. David was a simple young man, who tended the family's sheep. Jonathan was born and reared in the king's palace. There was
something internal though about the relationship of these two men.
"the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan
loved him as his own soul." (1 Samuel 18:1). They even formalized
 their friendship into a covenant (v. 3). The covenant would have
 included exchanging weapons, thus saying, "I will be your protector.
 Your enemy will be my enemy. I will be there when you need me."
 Others objects would have been exchanged with similar meanings. It
was a lifetime covenant. Even when Jonathan's father, King Saul, turned against David because he was jealous of David's successes during battle and popularity of the people, Jonathan remained faithful to David. All
 of their lives they were faithful friends to each other.

When David became king after the death of Saul and Jonathan, he continued his and Jonathan's covenant with Jonathan's crippled son
and cared for him. Even such a beautiful loving friendship had to
 come to an end.

We have to realize that sometimes we have friendships that are
"seasonal." People come into our lives at just the right time, fulfill
mutual needs and then circumstances cause us to go separate ways.
 We will always cherish the memories we have build with a loving
friend, but our lives may take different paths and terminate close
personal contact. God knows what we need; He knows who we
need and precisely when we need them and for how long. It is our responsibility to not allow our close relationships to deter us from following the leading of the Lord into the territory that he has mapped
 out for us. David and Jonathan wept at their parting. They would have preferred their closeness to continue, but it wasn't possible in the plan
of God for their futures.

The adhesive in any relationship is love. Love hides our faults to people who love us, and it hides the flaws of our friends from our view. That is why people who are so different can be such good friends. Love
creates a bond that overlooks each other's "warts."

Webster's dictionary says that a friend is "a person one knows well
and is fond of, an intimate associate, person on the same side in
a struggle, supporter." It has been said that a friend is someone who
 comes in when all the rest of the world has gone out. A real friend is
all of those things; even so, a friend can hurt us; they can let us down
 when we need them the most. If we didn't love them, we would
 write them off our friend list.

Husbands and wives are to be friends. Any friendship or marriage
requires updated maintenance. Corinthians 13 gives a beautiful
picture of true love. Television and other media have given a
distorted, perverted version of "love," mistaking lust for love. We
 need to look to what God has told us love is, not the world's
definition. Verse 13 goes so far as to say that love is better than
faith or hope. Of course, the reference is to the kind of love
God puts in our hearts, not the worldly lustful emotion.

After love, the number one ingredient for good friendship relations
is to recognize that each of us is unique, and we can bless one other
with our special uniqueness. We are meant to complement one another. This is especially true in a marriage. Though we are equal in God's
 sight, he gave each partner a role of responsibility that would be
mutually supportive. It is a sad mistake for marriage partners or great friends to attempt to remodel one other. We are different because God made us so, and we are to employ that difference to complete the relationship.

Some people are "larks" who get up bright eyed and greet the
sunrise and are ready to varoom right into the day. Others of us
are "owls" who just get going about the time the lark has wound down.
 We arise and fumble our way around in the dark much later in the
 day trying to get our adrenalin flowing enough to get dressed and
out the door to our day's business before noon catches us. It's a
terrible mistake for larks to expect owls to appreciate the early
morning beauties that they have such delight in. And an owl can't
expect the lark who has flitted and sung its way into day to give a hoot about midnight vigils. Larks are needed, owls are needed; and
one should not try to reconstruct the other.

Husbands or wives who consistently hoard the time and energy of
the other are going to run into difficulty. They each need same-gender friends. As much as they might want to, men and women will never
fully understand one other; they are just too different. However, with same-gender good friends, they can come to a happy balance. Women need to have good friends who really do understand where they are
coming from and lend a sympathetic shoulder or rejoice in some triumph. Men need the same outlet and will be missing something if they
don't have it. That could be a great tension reliever in a
tense household.

Good friends also need other good friends. Isolated friendships
limit our creativity. A few good friends will provide more inspiration
 and motivation and make us more congenial to our other friends.
 Then when we have to give up a "seasonal" friend, we have others
 to pick up the slack.

When friends let us down, we may find ourselves asking God to
send us a "perfect friend" who will understand us, support us and
always be there. The problem with that is the perfect friend would be getting a raw deal, because they would be expecting the same thing
from us; and we can't produce it.

What can we expect from our friends? The same thing we are
 giving them! We will make mistakes. At times, we will misunderstand
 them and even cause them pain and disappointment in our actions
or words.

"A friend loveth at all times." (Proverbs 17:17). "A man that hath
 friends must shew himself friendly." (Proverbs 18:24). Friends are
not dropped into our Christmas stocking. While they are a lovely gift,
 the on-going friendship requires maintenance and effort of both parties.
 A good friend may need to be open and honest with us when we stray. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend." (Proverbs 27:6). Friends can do
 a quality check on each other and still be in each other's good graces-because they love each other. "Ointment and perfume rejoice the
 heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel." (Proverbs 27:9). Love "suffers long and is kind, beareth all things."
(1 Corinthians 13). Kind "hearty" counsel is welcomed and
encouraged by friends who care for each other.

Having said all of that, the picture emerges that our friends are
not perfect, and if they were they would not want to be friends
with imperfect us. The fact is that we have to accept and endure
each other with all of our faults and frailties of character. We
keep looking for that perfect person who will esteem us and make
 us feel significant, who will be able to look into our hearts and see
the real person in spite of our failures. Someone who will love us
for what we hope to become and not stop at where we are now
and judge us. We want someone who will always be there whenever
 we need them and will know what to say or do to comfort and help
us, to pick us up when we have fallen and hold us until we are strong enough to make it on our own again. It seems like a futile search.

We are all still a work in progress and will be until the Lord comes
back to claim his imperfect children. What can we do about it?
God is perfect. How can He tolerate us while we are still in the
 making? Where can we find that "perfect friend"?

2 Chronicles 20:7 tells us that Abraham was a "friend of God."
Abraham was not God's perfect friend. Abraham lost faith in God's
ability to provide for his family during the famine and left the land
 that God had led him to. He sought refuge in Egypt and while there
picked up an Egyptian girl and brought her back to his home. Then
he tried to force God's promise of a son with his barren wife by
having a son by the Egyptian girl. God still kept his part of the
 covenant He had made with Abraham and gave him a son
 miraculously with Sarah, his barren wife. God kept his promise
 even though Abraham turned aside from it. Now, that's a
 faithful perfect friend!

Looking for a perfect friend? Look no further. You have found one.
 The rest of Proverbs 18:24 quoted above says, ".there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." James reminded his readers that God considered Abraham his friend (James 11:11). What qualifications
 did Abraham have that caused God to consider him His friend?
God even told Jacob that He had chosen him, who was the seed of Abraham, His friend. What made this friendship so special that
 it continued long after Abraham's death, extending to his posterity?

We might think that Abraham must have done some great memorable
deeds to be so deeply engraved in God's heart. However, when we
study the life of Abraham, he could have been any one of us, with faults and mistakes marking his life. We would like to be called the friend of God, but we feel we could never reach that status; we are just too imperfect and fail in our efforts to be perfect. The answer is so
simplistic that it is often overlooked.

James 2:23 gives us the answer in language so simple that anyone can grasp it: ".Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God." "It" being
"Abraham believed God" and righteousness was imputed to him.
 It was given to him - by God; he didn't work for it, he didn't
earn it; he just believed God and God gave him righteousness. Just
what is that righteousness? The Bible calls it grace. It means
having a right standing with God. To attain right standing with
God, we "believe God." What are we to believe?

"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and
shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the
 dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made
 unto salvation." (Romans 10:9-10).

If you need a "perfect friend" who will never misunderstand you,
who will always be by your side, not a seasonal friend, accept you
 as you are and gently recreate you into a person that He will
accept as perfect in His eyes (2 Corinthians 5:17), who will never
stop loving you no matter what-you have found Him! ".I will
never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5). He is
a forever friend. His name is Jesus!

Now take His hand and go on your journey. Even if the whole world lets you down, He will pick you up. You are loved and safe forever!

Delores Adams
Copyrighted. All rights reserved.

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