When a man has friends like I do I can’t help but think I’m experiencing some of what the eschatos is about. Eschatology is the study of end times. Depending on your biblical view, and everyone has one, that could mean your own personal mortality or the time at which God decides this chaos is enough. Either way we need friends to make it to either. Well, I suppose we don’t need friends when we join the grass, but you get my point.
My brother Jason loves like no one I know. He is my brother, yet he is a friend too, and our lives have messed these past 16 years in powerful ways. We have carried each other through extreme addictions, depression and despair, and we have held each other’s feet to the fire when no one else would or could. We haven’t fought the same demons, but each one of our insidious demons have required a friend that sticks closer than a brother, and when I think about that biblical phrase, Jason’s beautiful face comes to mind, and tears come to my eyes. Only the Holy Spirit can produce that kind of authenticity. Yes, we submit, but that kind of power and love transcends drama, and it becomes real in real-time. As best we can describe it words pale in the face of It’s reality. If you’ve experienced it you know what I mean.
I’ve waxed about this lately in church circles. Romans talks about the Spirit interceding for us with groans that words cannot express, and Jason and I have no doubt been two that have received that intercession. Both of us are also likely to be such a force for good that Satan probably knows who we are. Thank you Joe Beam for teaching me that theology. I agree. It scares me, but I agree. Some of us may not be on Satan’s radar, but he definitely has demons that rake us over the coals. My prayer for you as we barrel down toward the eschaton is that you will be privy to the power at your prayerful call, and that you will pray for insight into the boundaries you must create. All of this is a partnership from on High that will not leave you alone. Satan wants you isolated like a prairie animal being devoured by a pack of hungry wolves. He will not give up. Neither will God. My money is on God.
That’s why friends are vitally necessary in this battle against a very real evil. It’s almost as bad as the Taliban in that we don’t know who the enemy is at times. And like the Taliban Satan can convince us we are fighting a just war when we aren’t. Know your enemy. Know his tactics. Come up with a defense plan, and when spontaneous infantry skills are needed and your resources are weak pull out the cell phone and call a friend if need be. We cannot afford to be a frog in the kettle because the days are evil and God is jealous for our attention. He doesn’t force Himself on us as He could, so He wants our desire to be for Him as we make sense of this messed up world.
Jason Tomlinson does that for me every day. There are many people week in and week out that cover me in prayer, and inspire me with their words as I work out my salvation in fear and trembling. The fear is not the fear I had in the throws of depression, rather it is the fear of respect as my Don makes me an offer I can’t refuse – eternal life.
As we journey through this life lets find family, be they blood related or not, to show us unconditional love. We don’t need unconditional love to do what we want, rather we need the kind of love that is safe in bringing us close to the Father.
It’s possible because it’s happening for billions as they place their trust in a Father who works through imperfect human beings. We’ve all been hurt my others, and we’ve all cried hypocrite at the one at church who talked the talk, but did not walk the walk. There will be those individuals at the great eschaton, so when you belabor the pathetic hypocrite montage you only rob yourself of those of us in the church who are trying to be real, honest, loving and true to the same very real struggles you have as well. Once again, there will always be hypocrites. There will be sad individuals who blame their problems on other people, but in the end what will matter is what you decide, choose and act upon. None of us can do anything about what another human being does, but we can decide, choose and act upon what we will do.
This happens in community. Find a friend(s). Find those you can literally trust with your life who won’t betray you, and when someone does betray you forgive them and move on. That may take years of counseling, meds, pastoral care and other friends, but do what it takes because He will not leave you alone. He cares and loves you more than you care and love yourself.
Here’s to friends.