Friends, Romans and Countrymen

Lend me your ears.  Think about the subject of friendships with me.  Think about what you have instead of what you don’t have.

I have been studying Romans 1:7-13 this week.  And this Romans passage touched me because (if I’m remembering well) Paul had not made it to Rome when he was writing this.  He was talking to people he hoped to meet, prayed for diligently, had connections with and cared about — but had never met.  I have friends like that.

And this, along with one of those “25 Random Things About Me” posts running rampant on Facebook, got me thinking about how we can trust God to provide us with the relationships He intends for us, even if they don’t look like what we would have asked the  proverbial waitress to bring us.  Reminds me of that line in Runaround, by Blues Traveler, “I know no matter what the waitress brings, I will drink it and always be full.”  Or maybe I’ve misheard it and they said, “I know no matter what the waitress brings, I’ll drink a lot of Red Bull.”  Never mind.

My friend Whit was posting on Facebook about how she is the oldest living member of her family at 48, but has the gift of a best friend who feels like a sister.  It touched me for she just as easily could have written a lengthy diatribe about the loneliness of orphanhood or the lacks in her life.  She chose gratitude.

I have some friends that matter a lot to me, and I haven’t met them or barely have.  And that’s cool.  Especially during a season wherein my work keeps me pretty isolated and what time I do have goes 90% to the family that live in my house (unexpectedly for a few months, all three of my young adult children are living with my husband and me).

So I was thinking about Romans, and about Whit, and about these women friends scattered in three corners of the country. I’m not going to whine that I have no close friends in the Southwest. Or that I don’t have much in-person coffee time in my current circumstances.  I’ll celebrate what I do have, which is the chance for some very satisfying, deep conversations on email and some wonderful local friends too.

Some people find email hopelessly impersonal.  But for people who type fast (and probably communicate better in writing than in person), relationships really can deepen and people really can bond via internet.  It’s not all that different than what St. Paul was doing, writing on those parchment scrolls.

I’m thankful for two friends who sent me “random” emails suggesting that other friends of theirs and I should know each other, thus connecting us and serving as catalyst for new friendships.  I’m thankful for brief conversations in person (with women who live far away) wherein something sparked and I gained new friendships that have begun growing deeper on email.

Just as Paul wrote, I too can substitute other cities and say much of this:

 7To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. First,  I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented)….

I do thank God for these women.  I do pray for them often.  I do long to see them in person so that we may be mutually encouraged.  And I’m thankful for however God wants to answer my prayer for deep relationship.

Amen.

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~ by Cary on February 4, 2009.

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