At All Times

Recently, I was going through a box of old letters.

 

Yes, I’m THAT girl. I never throw words away. I keep them in boxes and gift bags. I attach thank you cards to my refrigerator and the hallmark or dayspring words signed by special friends go on my night stand. With each reread my heart swells 10 times it’s size. I need these words. These words give me the most abundant life.

 

My most recent word binge took me back to the golden days before computers were ubiquitous. On my sofa, I snuggled up to a medium book box billowing with hand written, hand addressed, and hand stamped beauties. I was in word heaven and my friends were the voices of angels!

 

These letters were full of adorable doodles and hearted lowercase I’s. Some included actual glossy photos fiercely protected by the words “Do Not Bend!” written on the outside of the envelope. Just about every epistle ended with a P.S. which was composed of cannot-wait-until-the-next-letter VITAL friendship information…often about a boy.

 

The body of each letter was a correspondence time capsule. These letters perfectly preserved the story of major life transitions from high school to college, new friends, new values, new boyfriends, and wedding plans. Some of these stories should have never been put in ink and I happily snapped pics of these letters and texted them to their author. Yep! I did that!

 

We laughed at who we were and delighted in our lifelong bond. We loved each other then and we love each other more now.

 

One story buried deep in those letters was divinely enlightening. This storyline was a revelation. This one opened my eyes to God’s provision for all his daughters and sons through friendship if we are faithful and when we love at-all-times (Proverbs 17:17).

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For just a few lines my then bestie was regretting her decision to become college roommates with another friend of ours. The first semester was still a month away and there was time to back out of her commitment and she was strongly leaning in that direction. My bestie feared rooming with someone who had backslidden. Yes, her hand actually wrote, in cursive, the word backslidden. It was a word we Southern Baptists often used in the 90’s. She went on a line or two more about the “sin” of our friend and that she just didn’t know if she could share a dorm room with her. My bestie and I were singularly focused on remaining close to God and she asked that I pray with her about this sinner-friend. Obviously, we didn’t know that we weren’t perfect.

 

Twenty years later, I am so very amused by my friend’s deep spiritually dramatic concern. Those friends did become roommates. They remained friends after college as well. In fact, they stood by each other’s side as they said “I Do” to the men of their dreams. And they were among the first to hold close each other’s babies. When one lost their father the other was within arm’s reach for days. And when one was devastated by a near divorce, the other traveled a state away to help with five kids and a home that was caving in.

 

What is Godlier than showing up? They needed each other when celebrating the grandest treasures in life and they needed each other when they couldn’t pick themselves up off the cold floor of grief.

 

Sitting on my sofa just a few nights ago with that letter in my hand God whispered in my ear, “What if she had chosen not to love?”

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My friends still don’t agree about sin or just about anything we learned in our rural school classes. However, they do believe in loving each other at-all-times. There is nothing more holy and Jesus-like than that.

 

If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can be seen can’t love God, who can’t be seen. 1 John 4:20