Ruth said to Naomi, ‘Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!’
Friend to Friend
There is a scene in one of the Star Trek movies where Spock is dying. His last words to his captain and friend, James T. Kirk, are these: “You have been, and always shall be, my friend.”
The same kind of exchange happens between Ruth and Naomi in the opening chapter of the book of Ruth. Ruth declares his loyalty to her friend in clear statements:
- Where you go, I will go.
- Where you live, I will live.
- Your people will be my people.
- Your God will me my God.
- Where you die, I will die.
- Nothing but death will ever separate us.
I call this a terminal friendship. Terminal in the sense of “I am you friend all the way to death.”
A terminal disease is one that you cannot get rid of. It is a disease or condition that you will have until you die. I have had back problems for 35 years. It is terminal. There is no fix for what is wrong with my back. My husband, Dan, has a cardiac condition that is the result of a birth defect. He has been through 48 heart procedures. He will die with a cardiac condition. Short of God healing one or both of us – which He can certainly do – our diseases are terminal. They will be with us until we die.
I think we have to learn and practice terminal friendships. Friendships that say “you are stuck with me. I am your terminal friend. I will be with you until one of us dies.”
What does that kind of friendship look like? I believe it there are three essential elements.
First – we have to be available. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend.” That does not just mean that I am willing to die for my friend. There is a much deeper meaning here. It means that I am available to live for my friend. It means I am available to do life with my friend.
That means I am available to wade into their mess. That means I am available to do the hard work of friendship. That means that I am wanting and willing to help them always turn to and pursue Jesus.
Second – we have to be authentic. Scripture commands us to “carry one another’s burdens.” You cannot help someone carry their burden unless they are willing share what their burden is in the first place. And your friend cannot help you carry your burden unless you authentically let them know what is going on with you.
It has been said “You can tell who your real friends are by which direction they run when you are in trouble.” That is so true!
Third – we have to be accountable. We have to learn to ask each other the hard questions. How are you doing in your marriage? How is it going with your kids? Where are you winning? Where are you struggling? What is Jesus teaching you right now? What are you doing about it?
The scripture tells us that “as iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another.” I don’t need more easy friends that never ask me the tough questions. I need someone that will practice mutual accountability with me.
You may be asking “Where do I find there terminal friends?” Or “Where do I find a friend that is available, authentic and accountable?” You find that kind of friend by deciding that you will be that kind of friend! Everyone you will ever meet is looking for love and acceptance.
When you offer love and acceptance to your friends, regardless of what mess they are in, then you discover the joys of real friendship.
Father, I want to thank You for being the ultimate Friend. You have never let me down or turned away from me – even when I have turned away from You. Please help me be the kind of friend You want me to be so that Your love can flow through me in my relationships.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
- What is the greatest hindrance to friendship in your life?
- What has been the greatest reward of friendship in your life?
- Are you willing to take the risk of cultivating intimate friendships and of being a true friend? Explain.
- Make a list of your closest friends and then picture life without them. What would that picture look like?
- Make a specific plan this week to invest time in the life of a friend.
More from the Girlfriends
Anger is often the catalyst in a broken friendship. We all deal with anger – but do we deal with it God’s way or our own way? Get Mary’s book, You Make Me So Angry for practical steps you can take to control anger – instead of allowing anger control you. And be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.