I had the real treat of sharing one of my mentors with friends the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We set up chairs in the den, put yummy food on the table, put the coffee on and just enjoyed each other. Add to that, Mrs. Summey’s warm personality, her stories, her confidence, transparency and Biblical wisdom, the night exceeded my expectations.
I have written many words about Mrs. Summey so I won’t repeat all the things that endear her to me, but every time I get to be with her, I am reminded how blessed I am to know her. As of late, I’ve been wishing I had paid more attention to her ways of parenting when her kids were younger. I have much to learn from her.
The topic she felt led to talk about was the value of friendship~ the difference a friend can make. The text was from Mark 2 and the story about the friends taking their paralytic friend to Jesus. They did not give up when they could not walk through the door to get him to Jesus. A plan was hatched and they climbed onto the roof and DUG a HOLE and lowered their companion down. Not an easy task. Interestingly enough, verse 15 says, “When [Jesus] saw THEIR faith......”. God commended each of their faiths, not just the paralytic’s.
In true Mrs. Summey form, she inspired, encouraged and challenged us fully. I will try to sum it up here.
Our life can change in a day, in a matter of seconds~ completely. At that point, a foundation of faith is critical. We may be rattled but when it all shakes out, our feet will land securely on the foundation He’s been building all these years. We need to remember that a foundation cannot be built in a day. Foundations are built minute upon minute, verse upon verse, trial upon trial, prayer upon prayer, victory upon victory. The investment will save your life. We can lean on a friend’s foundation for a time but we can’t take that one home at night.
The friends~ their faith~ dug the hole in the roof. They got messy. They hauled him onto the roof. They let him down. They went out on a limb for their friend-- in a big, big way. Would we? They believed there was something special about this man, Jesus. Something significant. Something amazing. Something “other”. Something for which they had been waiting. Do we believe that? Their faith in this Jesus they had only heard about is remarkable. They absolutely expected their friend to be changed. Do we? Do I believe that my faith might change someone else? What a difference a day made for him. What a difference an encounter with Jesus can mean for us, for a friend.
The best questions she asked us, I thought, were, whose on your mat? Who are you dragging to Jesus? Who are you willing to go out on a limb for-- dig a hole in the roof? Am I a friend like this? Am I regularly involved in introducing people to Jesus for salvation-- for them to experience the redemption of the gospel? For our friends who know Jesus but truly need us to walk through a dark season and need for us to be the one on which to lean and to consistently place them before the Father, am I willing to get so involved that it might interrupt my schedule and might call for a difficult, messy, energy draining plan B?
My answer? No. I really, really want to be that kind of friend. Really. I may be that kind of friend for a few, for those of whom I am especially fond, for those whose lives are relatively easy, for the ones I know who would do it for me....... I hang on for dear life to Romans 8:1 about right now. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Because of this same Jesus, I am under the law of the SPIRIT who has set me free from that condemnation that comes so readily...... and steadily. Challenged, yes. Condemned, no.
When the paralytic got up and walked, verse 12 says, “This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” I have. I have seen God transforming lives ~ our own, those dearest to us and even strangers. You have to.
But I bet we have friends who haven’t.
What a difference a friend makes. What a difference a Savior makes.