My Favourite Stories #100

Fair Weather Friends and The Miracle of Christian Community.

There is a river that abounds with God’s resources and from it we can gather the refreshment of support, love, courage, wisdom, experience, knowledge, values, and companionship. These are the things that we need for the spiritual pilgrimage of life. It is meant to be, as God designed it, the community of faith from which we can enrich our own faith. I had been travelling along the path of life when a series of calamities besieged me. It was then that I learned the truth I now recount.

A true community of faith becomes God’s arm on the shoulders of the weary and heavy laden; they become companions for the journey. Is this why studies show that unless a new convert makes 5-7 friends in the church, they are unlikely to survive more than about one or two years. Churches without friends are like winter landscapes. True friends are like the arm of God on your shoulder when the way is uphill. True friends appear, like stars in the night, when the summer dreams of the forest fades and the winter winds blow and there, amid the blazing snowdrifts the evergreens they emerge like lovely sentinels. There, dotting the landscape, the evergreens are like friends who remain after the storm’s coldness has traveled through the forest of life. Unlike fair-weather friends, true friends are like evergreens in the snow-covered landscape when all else has faded. These are friendships born in the cradle of chaos. Friends that come amidst the trials and tribulations of life are gifts from God.

I never realized this when times were good, but then the landscape of my life changed, and I experienced this miracle of Christian community. I was able to draw on the resource that God provided long before my need. This is the fountain of church fellowship.

There is no sun without shade, even the night is but a shadow and so when the dark nights of our soul come, and we find ourselves under the mountains of our troubles we can either dig a cave or a tunnel. In the cave we will become lost as we grope friendless in darkness. In the tunnel we can hope for the better side. In every affliction there is the seed of a great blessing, or a window of opportunity. It was in one of these dark nights that I experienced the river of grace that I had been flowing in all this time.

True friends are like angels that lift us to our feet when we have forgotten how to fly. True friends are like the rising of the moon when the tide of life is at its lowest ebb and the crabs are playing in the mud. It is the moon that reminds us there is a sun and a new day. It is the moon that brings forth the waters to fill the coast once more. It is the moon itself that waxes and wanes and reminds us that all nature has seasons, and the heart must too. Our righteousness is like the moon, waxing and waning, at its best full of holes but brightest when facing the sun.

So, when does the church shine brightest? When it is the river of grace, and the arm on the shoulder of the weary. When it is the evergreens amidst the snow-covered landscapes in somebody’s life.  Then, like the moon it is fully reflecting the light of the Son, and all its imperfections are lost in the splendor of its glow.


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