Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
There is an old African proverb, “Show me your friend and I will show you your character.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it or some version of it over the years.
Social media has distorted what connectedness means over the last decade. We are “friends” with lots of different types of people we have never met in person, but generally speaking we tend to spend time physically with those people who only see pieces of who we are, want to be, or would like to be. Good friendships bring out the best in us, challenge us, and most importantly encourage us.
Our time is our greatest and most precious resource. It is nonrenewable and it is gone faster than the second hand ticks. Who we spend our time with really does matter - at least it should matter.
Jesus had an eclectic group of friends he hung out with, to say the least.
He hand picked each of them with a simple command, “Follow me.”
Some were tax collectors extorting their countrymen for money they didn’t have so they personally could prosper.
Others were fishermen sailing the seas pulling out catches (or not, as was as equally often the case).
One was a zealot who wished to disrupt the Roman Empire through terror, violence, and constant resistance, hiding in the hills and swooping in to attack and retreat like a ghost in the darkness.
Other disciples did various things that no doubt were in contradiction to who and what Jesus was.
Yet despite all that, Jesus called these ragtag misfits to follow him and become his trusted friends.
He modeled to them kindness, compassion, courage, and unwavering faith. Jesus was the friend that they could never be. They would ultimately deny him, desert him, and of course betray him.
Jesus picked them because of their imperfections and deficiencies because he understood who they could become rather than who they were. Jesus met them were they were at not where they needed to be.
Jesus does this with us as well, doesn’t he? Jesus believes in us long before we believe in ourselves, and trusts in us before we ever trust in ourselves.
Our scripture reading today has his best friends doubting him again. Jesus, the calm in the storm, is sleeping while they are fretting. “Do you want us to drown?” they ask fearfully.
Jesus eventually calmed the storm and asked them why they were afraid and why they still doubted.
I wonder what type of epic failure I’d be as a friend of Jesus if you were to read about the disciple Lou. If my actions in my life over the years are any indicator, I’d probably be the worst. Judas would be glad I was around just to take some of the heat.
Jesus is a friend who never leaves and certainly never gets upset or frustrated. Jesus walks beside us during our greatest triumphs (while we often dismiss him) and during our greatest trials (while we often blame him).
Friendships are like plants. They need to be nurtured and groomed. If all you do is ask a friend for help all the time, it becomes less a friendship and more a utilitarian relationship. You give me this and I will take this.
Are you finding that the case with Jesus this week? Only asking Jesus for “stuff” or help or complaints? Are you spending time with Jesus this week giving thanks for the multitude of blessings you have? Going to Jesus to say thank you for the gift of not just this life but for everlasting life?
What about your friendships in your life? Are there friends you need to reach out to and connect with? Have a long overdue phone call? Perhaps lunch or dinner? May this be the week you find ways to reconnect with Jesus AND your friends that haven’t heard from you in a while.
May it be so,
Rev. Lou Ward
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