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Spiritual Friends

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift the other up; but woe to the one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help.

Ecclesiastes 4:9–10

I have vacationed a LOT this summer with different groups of people, but the overall experience was always the same.

It began with my praise band’s annual retreat weekend to Ocean City. My band mates and our families ate every meal together, made sandcastles, took long walks, and played music late into the nights.

Next was a family gathering in Niagara Falls, NY. My three siblings and I grew up in a small town less than 30 minutes from this natural wonder, so it was a homecoming for most of us who no longer live in the area. With the family farm sold and our parents living in a senior care facility (ages 87 and 83, praise GOD!), we out-of-towners were lucky enough to secure a house through that could accommodate all 14 of us. We played games, took day trips, gathered around Mom and Dad, watched fireworks, and squeezed in a family photo shoot.

Before my next getaway, my husband and I hosted a dinner party at our home for our former missionary friends who were in town and 20 of their closest friends. Over a gourmet burger bar, we shared stories dating back to middle school, laughed a lot, and made plans for another get-together next year.

The next weekend I headed to Myrtle Beach with two girlfriends. Though we did squeeze in a walk on the beach each day, we spent the majority of our time just hanging out together: talking, shopping, talking, eating, talking, watching movies, and talking. After all, this is what girlfriends do!

Last weekend I drove to Cape May with a coworker to meet up with two other colleagues and their spouses to attend the Global Leadership Summit. Though our attention was tuned to the speakers each day, our evenings were spent debriefing what we learned over long dinners with the focus on incorporating better leadership practices into our church.

So far, I’ve had 5 different gatherings in 4 different states, crossing paths with more than 60 different individuals in the process. But like I said at the start, “…the overall experience was always the same,” and it was this: I walked away from each trip feeling lighter and fuller and more grounded than when I arrived.

You may be thinking that the common thread was wine. Though that was A common thread, it was not THE common thread. THE common thread was God. 

Prayer covered each journey, each meal, and each activity. My mini-vacations were blessed times with spiritual friends—band mates, family members, coworkers, and spiritual friends. No unkind words were spoken. No fights broke out. No one’s feelings were hurt. No one went home emotionally exhausted because we spoke to each other in love, laughed heartily, and respected everyone’s opinion—building each other up instead of tearing each other down. This is what God calls his followers to do. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Truly, my heart aches for those people who dread family vacations, work retreats, and planned get-togethers with so-called “friends.” The outcome of every gathering is questionable at best if Christ is not at the center. Though my heart aches for these people, I will admit that I don’t want to vacation with them! I have now reached an age where I am comfortable saying “no” to life-sucking situations. I want to live, and live for Christ!!!

With that said, I am greatly looking forward to NEXT week’s vacation to Maine with four of my sisters-in-Christ. Not only will we eat lobster and drink wine, we will pray together, talk about things that matter, encourage one another, challenge each other, and point one another to Jesus. And I know without a shadow of a doubt that the outcome will be the same: we will all go home wishing our trip had lasted just one day longer.

Relevant Lyrics: “Something about just being with you. When I leave I feel like I’ve been near to God, and that’s the way it ought to be.”

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