Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Friendship Building Blocks

Last night, about 2 a.m., I awoke to thunder gently rumbling in the sky and quite a nice lightning storm coloring the sky in all directions. No rain, just hints that someone else somewhere was getting a little of the 'weather action' even though we weren't. The sky was grey this morning at sunrise, but alas, the clouds are lifting and sun is shining through. Arizona weather is just that way - lots of threats, but not a lot of 'action' in terms of those drops falling from the sky! Storms are something we prepare for, though - because they threaten to take out our power with high winds, interrupt our cell and satellite service with blowing dust, and when those drops do begin to fall, they can bring rushing floods to very arid places. Preparation is key to minimizing the risks associated with these storms, just as it is key to reducing our risks spiritually, emotionally, and physically when uncontrollable 'attacks' come our way in life.

If God doesn't build the house, the builders only build shacks. If God doesn't guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap. It's useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don't you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves? (Psalm 127:1-2)

I am always so very grateful for the Word of God when it is brought into my life and allowed to be 'taken in' - it is as a gentle rain that faithfully brings refreshment to this dry and weary soul at the end of a hard day, a difficult work week, or just whenever I need it most. It is an instrument of celebration in my life - how about yours? That is what the Psalms really were written to be for us - tools of celebration, songs of praise, and words of worship. Our psalmist encourages us to keep in mind the extreme importance of allowing God to be the "builder" of our homes and the overarching "guard" of our cities. As builder of our homes, he is both the architect and the framer. He gives us the structure and the guidance to build very strong homes. I am not speaking of the physical walls, floors, and windows around us here - but the relationships that exist within the walls of our physical dwellings - those relationships that give us stability and security as we walk together down some very tough roads in life. As the architect over our relationships, he is involved in the design of each relationship we encounter. He has in mind the very "design" of each relationship even before they begin.

Our "homes" extend beyond our walls at times. We have "extended" families over which God is also the architect and framer. Those extended families consist of our relationships within our churches, our community, our work environments, etc. Within these relationships, God opens us to learn from each other, to encourage, to put on display his grace to those who need to know the power of his love. The writer tells that UNLESS God is the builder of those relationships, they fail - they are nothing more than "shacks" we have erected when he envisions them as "mansions" of his glory with him as the builder. Whenever I am in a relationship that seems a little strained, going nowhere, I almost always find that it is either not God's will for me to be in that relationship, or that I am not bringing God's will into that relationship. When I am in a relationship that is not God's will, it is usually because I have chosen to be involved out of my own desires - there is a motivation that is rooted in something self-driven, self-directed. Within that relationship, I am miserable - at odds - and cannot find the peace I so desperately desire. When I am in a relationship that God clearly has placed me in, there is an evidence of that in the way that individual helps me to grow, challenges me to evaluate my priorities, and stands as an encouragement when I am doing well in my daily walk.

As the architect of our relationships, God has a specific purpose for each relationship he allows to be formed - some are for our encouragement, some for our exhortation, still others for our pure and simple enjoyment. Some serve all these purposes at various times. When we allow God the privilege of directing our relationships - establishing them according to his design - we are surrounded by individuals that create a foundation for our development and we do the same in their lives. What relationships has God placed you in? What is your role within those relationships? Are you there as one who brings exhortation - encouraging the other person toward growth? Are you there to bring encouragement by the sharing of your knowledge, experience, or wisdom? Whatever the reason for your placement within that relationship, be faithful to what God has placed you there to accomplish. You are an instrument in his hands to "build" the house! Let the architect use you as he envisions - the reward is always going to be a strong house, well-founded, and a place of shelter in times of storm. So, be the kind of friend God wants you to be within those relationships and just see what he will build! Friend on!