Saturday, January 28, 2006

Soul Friends

In the movie Because Of Winn-Dixie, a mangy mutt becomes the catalyst of friendship and connection in a very lonely small town. The dog befriends a young girl named Opal, and oddly enough accomplishes everything that Opal's preacher dad hopes to see happen at his little Open Arms Baptist Church.

Never forget what dog spelled backwards is. Opal starts out in the movie simply desiring to have a friend.

Do you have friends? Most people answer, "Of course I have friends."

Do you have really good friends, you know, a few special people with whom you can be yourself, folks with whom you feel meaningfully and comfortably and close? People start to squirm at that question.

Do you have at least one soul friend, one person whom you trust so deeply that their betrayal would devastate you, someone who knows you well enough to speak with life-arousing power into your inmost being?

Larry Crabb asks these questions regularly in his teaching, and by the time he gets to the third question very few people even understand it, never mind answering "Yes." And so he'll rephrase the question this way:

“Do you have friends with whom you have no secrets, people you love being with because somehow they stir your appetite for God no matter what’s going on in your life, people that make you feel as if you can be yourself, with no pretense or effort, people that respond more with curiosity than solutions when you share your struggles?”

Very few people have these friends that are this close. I've always felt that the church should be the place to cultivate soul friends, but sadly it's often one of the last places you find them.

A soul friend helps us to become more aware of our thirst for God. They help us to see where God is at work in the myriad of events of our life. This gift of spiritual direction nurtures the character changing love of God in our soul. Soul friends freely give to us what Jesus would; acceptance, love and grace despite knowing everything in the garbage dump of our lives.

"Our security will be … in the depths of our friendships." Jean Vanier

Pray for God to bring along a soul friend to help you with spiritual direction and ask God for the privilege of offering it to others. You may discover that your sought after soul friends have been with you all along.

Most people are self-conscious but not self-aware. Peter Scazzero

Colossians: 2:6-7
Live in Christ, rooted and built up in him.

Ephesians 4:32
Be tenderhearted, forgiving one another.


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