broken but not crushed

Helping each other live successfully and abundantly in the face of brokenness.

Location: Columbus, Central Ohio, United States

Friday, June 30, 2006

Best Friends part five

Dear Friends,

We are nearing the end of our short series of blogs on the art of making and keeping best friends. We’ve been making some observations on the incredible example of two characters we find in the Bible, Jonathan and David. These two guys are tied together in their hearts – they are what we today call best friends.

We’ve seen that friendship is more than skin deep, and that true friends are generous and unselfish within the relationship. Yesterday we found out that friendships, as well as every good relationship, requires time to grow and develop.

Today, though, our observation has a dark side. We live in a world that sometimes takes aim at us with cruel and harmful intentions. There are days, especially for us who are broken, when it seems that at every turn life is conspiring against us. Pain overwhelms. Personal challenges become nearly unbearable. Even the weather is bleak. And then it happens – some unthinking, sometimes uncaring, usually rude person attacks us.

It happened the other day at Lowes. Susie and I had taken an opportunity to restock the lumber racks in my woodshop, and after two doctors appointments and pushing my manual wheelchair through the big store, I had just about come to the end of my endurance. As a love gift to me Susie went to get our truck from the parking spot quite a distance from where we exited so I wouldn’t have to push myself to it.

She got there and was about to enter the truck when two women, who had parked in the handicapped space beside our truck, walked by and started complaining – very loud, very rude, and without giving the circumstances a second thought - attacking Susie for being in “their” handicapped parking space. The attack was obviously unfounded and uncalled for, but it happened anyhow.

If you are broken you know this kind of unexpected rudeness happens. People, with their own agenda and, selfishly, without giving others a second thought, just attack without provocation. Sometimes it is face to face, but most of it, like our encounter at Lowes, is cowardly. They just talk real loud and make a scene that is intended to hurt and damage.

David and Jonathan teach us an important lesson with their lives. We will call it …

Observation #4: True friends defend each other

As we’ve seen, Jonathan is a great example of unselfish friendship. He could have been pretty put out by the knowledge that God had taken the reigns of power from Saul’s family and given it to David. Think about it – knowing your best friend will probably take your job, your power, your position, your financial benefits, your titles, your future – that could but a damper on things, don’t you think!?!? But Jonathan was a true friend, willing to suffer loss to defend David’s right to be the king of Israel instead. What a true and noble friend Jonathan is. He shows us how its supposed to be done.

But this friendship went even one more extra mile. In more than one instance Jonathan saved David’s life by warning him of his father’s unholy intentions. Saul absolutely hated David. Several times Saul would chase David down in an attempt to kill him. This could have put a strain on Jonathan and David’s friendship, but because they were committed to each other at a deeper level, Jonathan became David’s defender. Jonathan was willing to stand up to his father at his own peril just to make sure David would survive.

That example is for you and me to follow. Now, I don't expect that many of us have an insane king chasing us with murder on his mind. But rude people can be cruel. Unthinking people can be crass and mean and not even know it. And sometimes it is up to us to defend our friends against these kinds of folks. No, it is not always easy, nor is it even without it’s built in dangers, but sometimes it is necessary and it is YOU and ME that God calls to defend the defenseless. It might mean you are going to have to put your own comforts on the line, but if that is the way it goes down, then I, for one, choose to go down fighting. Oh, maybe not physically, but a word, chosen carefully and spoken timely, can carry great weight in defense of a friend.

And I’m not just talking about the rudeness we encountered at Lowes. I’m also talking about stopping gossip and bad-mouthing in its tracks. I’m saying that we do NOT join in when another is being criticized or berated, but we enter the conversation in defense of the other’s character. We choose the high road less traveled and stand, sometimes at our own emotional peril, in defense of those we consider friends.

Yes, it requires action on our part, and yes, it means we are putting our own selves on the line, but it also means that we do the right thing, the good thing, the Godly thing, and take our stand in defense of the weak and broken among us. It might also mean taking local government to task for its lack of wheelchair accessibility. It might also mean taking a stand in a business, a sporting arena, or even at your church in defense of those who otherwise would be defenseless and left out because of their brokenness. It means taking a stand, and then standing there – even if its in your wheelchair – unflinchingly defending what is right.

I know this sounds like I’m waxing militant today, and maybe I am. But we all know people who, without someone to stand up for them, would find themselves on the outside, with burning tears in their eyes, looking in. Those of us who are strong need to take up the cause of the weaker. Because if we don’t, who will? And if not today, then when?

True friends defend each other whatever the cost. Decide to defend today.

Standing tall in my wheelchair,


Blogger Sam said...

Great stuff Dad!

On a different topic, you should still enact word verification on your comments even though you are allowing anonymous commenting. It keeps out automated SPAM. Just a thought.


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