The joy of a friend. The absolute comfort, cheer, warmth, unvarnished truth and unconditional love of a close friend.
I have stumbled more times than I care to count. That I cringe when I think about counting. Just when I think I'm on the right road, going the right way, doing the right thing…WHOOPS(!)…there goes my attention from the One on whom my full attention should be focused and that cursed bump in the road pops up from nowhere and trips me up. Sometimes the stumbles are very minor, resulting in nothing more than a stubbed toe, but, then sometimes the stumbles are fairly major, resulting in numerous scrapes, wounds, and deep cuts. Usually to the heart and the spirit.
On either kind of stumble there is the comfort of a couple of good friends that I can count on to reach out their hand and help lift me back up and on my feet. On the more serious one, there are three friends here in town and three online who are there to offer advice, counsel, love and prayer.
To use an analogy, I was in defensive driving many years ago and was told by the instructor that all it takes to create a deadly head-on collision is to turn the steering wheel just 2 degrees toward oncoming traffic. The drift will put you into the path of the other vehicle and *BAM*…it will result in a fatal accident even at a relatively slow rate of speed. 2 degrees seems so small, but it is a vital 2 degrees which can bring serious consequences. Such is the case with mistakes we make in our lives that cause us to stumble either small or big.
Admittedly, there are mistakes I have made that are a result of my own stubborn nature and foolish pride and those are the ones that usually cut the deepest and during those times it is a blessing to have those friends there to love, to listen and to care.
That being said, I am not a person of many friends. Oh, I have a whole bunch of acquaintances, but I have learned from the folly of my youth in having too many “friends” of the wrong sort. These days, I have a select few friends that I trust implicitly, all for different reasons and for different things.
Have you ever had friends that you counted on for different things? My friends are all wonderful for different reasons. I have three friends that I can tell pretty much any of the nitty-gritty of my stumbles to and they have wonderful advice on the “dirtier” parts of my mistakes that help get my head straightened out. I have three other friends, who are better at handling the more spiritual aspects of the mistakes I have made and do not “need” to know the grittier parts of the serious mistakes I make. They are there to help get the spiritual aspect of me back in line when I have started to make that dangerous 2 degree drift and want to “pull the steering wheel” back in line in order to avoid making a devastating mistake.
Proverbs 18:24 says: A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. The first part of that verse is a case of too many cooks spoiling the stew. How many different pieces of advice from different areas does it take to turn one’s head completely upside down? How many people does it actually take to help you with your stumbles? The answer is in the second part. …but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Really, there should be only one person you depend on to help you through your struggles and stumbles because He is the only one who will NEVER steer you wrong. Human friends are wonderful to have, especially Christian ones, to help you through the tough times, but they are, after all, only human and are prone to the same foibles and follies that you are.
Your heavenly friend, Jesus, is the best kind because He will ALWAYS be there for you, will always comfort you, always be ready to forgive you and will always have His hand out for you to hold. All you have to do is take it. And if you are walking hand in hand with the One you should be walking in tandem with anyway, there is less opportunity for stumbles and that 2 degree drift because He will be beside you all the way, keeping your paths straight.
Job 23:11 says “My feet have remained steady on His path; I have learned from His ways and have never swerved aside.” Would that we all followed that bit of Biblical advice!