CHOOSE THIS DAY AND IF IT SEEMS EVIL TO YOU TO SERVE THE LORD, YOU CHOOSE TODAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE, WHETHER THE GODS WHICH YOUR FATHERS SERVED THAT WERE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FLOOD (THE RIVER), OR THE GODS OF THE AMORITES IN WHOSE LAND YOU DWELL; BUT AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD (JOSHUA 24:15)
I had a friend a long time ago whose brother I used to date for awhile. He was very ambitious and restless with it. We broke up. He married his life-long wife. His sister and I never lost touch though. Over the years she sometimes mentioned how she felt he was venturing closer and closer to the pit because his mind stayed on material things and he was very passionate about it. Year after year when his name came up, that would be her concern – he was still walking on quicksand.
One day shortly before he died, we had a long discussion about her fears for him (we didn’t of course know he was closer to death’s door than was supposed). I did not really know how much she was withholding God’s Word from him, until she flat out told me. He didn’t want to hear it. Therefore he didn’t. She kept it to herself. She respected his wishes. We Bible studied a lot. I always did the reading and she the directing. I allowed this with no qualms, she was the older of the two of us, and she treated me that way.
She had one eye; I had two. I could see better to read anyway. I was also a much better reader. Neither before nor after her, have I ever had a study partner who never tired of Bible study. Oh, what a great knowledge of Bible Scriptures she had – by memory. Except for her, I have never known anyone who can focus on long, deep study, or even care to study Scriptures that much and for long lengths of time as we did.
If I wasn’t working, or taking care of other duties that could not be laid aside, I was reading with my swollen legs/feet up, while she listened and gave me Scriptures to find. My child studied with us second-handedly. She heard so much of our studies. Thank God for telephones. Lack of strength to drive or any other reason did not interfere with our studies. As a matter of fact, a minister friend of mine warned me that I studied too much; I did not socialize enough; and that I could lose my mind. I told him I’d rather lose my senses that way than any other way. He never mentioned it again. Also, by Grace I still have a sound mind.
Then, close to our end of communications, we shared her concerns really for the last time, about her brother. I was not being diplomatic any longer, I guess. I didn’t want to be nosy or pushy, but I asked her point blank why not just reach out to him with God’s love anyway and give him that love, however large or small a bite he would accept. She told me very matter-of-factly that she could not, because she wanted to “STAY FRIENDS WITH HIM.” She kept silent, all for the sake of an earthly love or friendship. She had two best loves: her brother and going to CHURCH.
All that I knew of her flew out the window – I saw it in my mind. I looked at all the times we had shared God’s Word with each other; all the times we had done missionary work together; all the times she worked in her ministry in another country and here in the states; and I was sad in my heart. Something broke. Something broke when she said that; I heard it. I’ve lived to experience that “shattering” a time or two again since then. (In the year that King Uzziah died, ….)
She failed him because she loved him too much; I always felt like I failed her whether I did or not. During all of those years she still could not “see” it is better to lose him because of God’s Love, than to retain his friendship because of her love for a sibling. By refusing to share God’s love with a LOVED one, we did not measure up to the fullness of Christ in that situation, even though “I” never saw him again. But she was like him in a sense, she was the “teacher” and I the student. Therefore, any suggestions or encouragements I gave were met with her “I know better” attitude.
If you know the story of Naaman the Leper, there is an analogy here possibly. One was a famous general; the other sought after money and things (Mammon) I was told. He lived right in her vicinity, right under her nose. She did not have to go to Timbuktu to reach out to him. She just loved him too much to try to share God with him at any cost. Just one word is better than nothing. But she made a CHOICE. Not long after she confided that truth to me, HER BROTHER DIED suddenly.
I love her very much to this day. I always will. I ceased to stay in contact with her not many years after I relocated. That was usually my job, since she hardly ever made long-distance calls. If I didn’t call, I usually never heard from her. I know her number in my heart, having known IT for 40 years. It’s been over 10-12 years now since I talked to her. If God wills, I will pick up the phone and dial her number by rote – without thinking. It’ll be right, then. We have never talked about this subject since, and I suppose we never will.
We never talked about how she made me feel when she got disgusted by all the tragic things and constant tensions in my life; all happening simultaneously, seemingly never ending, every year of my life. Instead of saying we would bind and pray for me like we did for her in crises, she was so tired of my constant trials and tribulations she said very angrily, “Mary, I’d hate to live your life.” She was mad at the trials or me – I never asked which. I never mentioned it again, neither did she. She just didn’t know, as I didn’t know, that my darkest nights would begin after I relocated – away from her area.
But I started training myself to bear up in silent prayer. The church I belonged to at the time was sort of like my friend in point of view. The least one who should have doubted or ridiculed a testimony, did, and brushed it off as “you’re just talking.” Yes, I had to seek better company with more staying power. Angels I find have more patience than we do in the natural. Those things cut me deeply, but I forgave them, quickly or not, but I forgave them, and became more careful in seeking solace.
My friend stays in my heart as a prayer on wings, on her behalf and mine, because my love for her is still strong in the Lord. I’ll never forget how we shared God’s Word together. But to this day, she does not know that she broke my heart (FOR MY GOOD) when I learned who her preferred friend was. In remembering things, she too, has always been my prayer to God of how (1) not to be timid in sharing Him with certain people we PRIZE, and (2) not to be selective and show partiality toward anyone, in handling the Word I carry in me. When at war in the trenches, we cannot be fickle about whom we serve and whom we prefer. We must know that before we go into battle, because we don’t ever know if we will come off the battlefield alive or not. But dead or alive, I’m for Christ.