I had our new rescue pup for three weeks, and now I was desperately searching for him in the wooded area behind our house. He had gotten away from me and was likely tied up by his 20-foot long retractable leash somewhere in the dark of the early winter night. It was set to be very cold, and I knew that it could mean deep trouble as he was being treated with nasty poisons to rid him of heartworms, and he was not at his strongest. I had tried unsuccessfully to find him right away, so I’d had to turn back to get better shoes and a flashlight.
In the deep tangling underbrush, I struggled to find any sort of clear area to walk and was getting snagged and scraped by tree branches. Deep marshy areas near the creek were invisible in the dark, and I found myself ankle deep in mud. I called and called, but heard nothing back from the dark, not even rustling.
I finally decided to turn back before getting lost myself. I swept the area again with the flashlight and called out, “be a good boy! I will find you baby! I’ll be back!” That’s when I heard the faint sorrowful cry, just once. I called and called, but he never made another sound. I trudged and slogged in the direction of his cry, but didn’t hear him again. I finally found him, hopelessly tied up with the leash, head pinned to the ground.
Any of my other dogs would have hollered til Jesus came just to put an end to it. Not this one. This one was used to no one ever caring. He didn’t know to call out to me, or trust that I would come.
Conversely, I was helping an elderly family member in her last week of life, watching over her as she labored to breathe in her hospice bed. The ladies from her church of 30 years came without being asked, and cleaned her house, weeded her prized garden, and even painted her toenails. They knew that she was proud of her home and her appearance, and wouldn’t want either to be less than perfect for all the loved ones and visitors coming and going on this sad week.
See, she had lived her life calling out to those who would see her through the ups and downs of life. They knew they required no invitation to do what was needed, because she had been transparently allowing them to be a part of her life in all the intimate ways that matter. Her tribe was quietly going about doing the things they knew to do without even asking.
What are we missing when we don’t invite the body of Christ to come and find us, and minister to us when we are lost or in trouble? What happens when we don’t call out to the literal hands and feet of Christ when we need them most? What happens when we decide that we don’t want others to see the areas of our need because we lack trust, or are ashamed? Well, for one thing, we go to the arms of Jesus without our toenails painted. For another, we miss the blessing of filling practical needs for each other, as we were not meant to walk this life alone. It is nice to have family, and to rely on them. It is even better to have a deep, extended family for the times when life hits hardest.
I encourage you to let your friendships go deeper. Experiment with letting people come over when the house is a mess, or your kid is failing at toddler-hood. Or adulthood. I had the best experience lately drinking wine in a walk-in closet, because my friend let me clean it out after a particularly difficult chapter in her life, and it was so nice when we were done we just wanted to sit in it. We rejoiced together over how great it felt to purge bad leggings and bad memories from our lives, and have a fresh closet start. Thanks for letting me see your chaos and questionable evening wear, friend! It filled my soul to help.
Also, don’t be surprised if you come home to find me with paint samples, ready to do the master bedroom... just sayin’.
“Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence.” Proverbs 27:9 (Passion Translation)