“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

The idea for this post was formed in the middle of the night, while up with my son. He said, “Mom, I love the way you love us.”

The next morning, while eating breakfast, my daily devotion was titled “The Definition of Love.”

Later that day, I had lunch with a group of coworkers that I do not get to hang around very often, and it was pleasant and refreshing!

After work, I went to volunteer at worship at the state penitentiary. This is such a blessing filled with mutual times of love in and of itself. The love of God for all people is shown so evidently in this space every single time that I am there! But recently, during small group Bible study after worship, something special happened.  The honesty and connection between the twelve of us participating was moving. At the end of our time together, when each of us answered the question “What blessed you tonight?” I found myself answering, “Friendships.”

In all honesty, I was a little surprised by the response as it came out of my mouth. I wondered, afterwards, why I had chosen that word.  Then it dawned on me that in the last year I have worshipped with many of these same children of God, including one of my spiritual mentors, many, many times. Through this time shared together, I have learned so much about these men and about myself. Only “friends” know so much about one another and trust one another enough to share honest discussion and open prayer and thanksgiving.

One might question whether I truly have “friendship” with these individuals, and my response would be yes, friendship like Jesus often had–full of shared, mutual respectfulness; a shared desire to learn from one another; mutual love of God and Scripture; and brought together with a sense of deep community.

Jesus was often in crowds and ministered to many people. Why would our lives today be any different? There was no special or elite criteria for whether or not Jesus loved someone or considered them a “friend.” Jesus loved everyone.

I found myself thinking about how I had received a strong message of love toward my fellow man and toward friendship.  I was reminded that the importance of encouraging each other and holding each other up is not something to be taken lightly.  We all need that in this crazy life!

Precious Lord, grant us friendships–not only in the traditional sense of the word, but in every sense of the word. Please surround us with a community of people who hunger for you and desire to spread the love and hope that comes with knowing Jesus. Thank you, Lord, for all the beautiful friends in life, in all capacities and all places. We are blessed to feel and share your love in so many ways. Amen.

**Portions of this post were published first at the writer’s blog, frommylifetoyourheart.blogspot.com