By Ruth Bowser
When I think of my early life with Christ the image of a slow leaking balloon comes to mind. I went to church to get filled up but on Monday my balloon started to leak. Back then I was doing more than just attending church but my focus was on what I was doing for Christ. You see I was checking all the boxes by doing the right things in my Christian life, but I wasn’t growing closer to God. In other words I was doing life in my own strength and my own strength deflated quickly. But God wanted more for me. He allowed some pain in my life, as CS Lewis calls it, ‘a severe mercy’ in order that I might surrender my self-sufficiency. He then invited me to begin again. It was then that I began to experience an intimate relationship with Him. I often say that I accepted Christ as my Savior in 1970 but fell in love with Him in 1989.
Emilie Griffin shares how spiritual friendships can help us become closer to Christ. To some the phrase, ‘spiritual friendship’ might sound intimidating. Yet in these kinds of friendships we experience trust, authenticity and joy like any close relationship but a spiritual element is added. Friendships like these help us to pay attention to God in our lives. It’s a safe place to bring our doubts, questions, struggles, joys and victories to the table. A friend like this doesn’t come with an agenda to fix or a Scripture to encourage nor does she interrupt you saying she has experienced what you have-she just is fully present listening and praying. God uses these friends in my life to breathe new life into me.
How difficult is it to be a spiritual friend? Not very. The hardest part is slowing down and setting aside your worries and cares of the day in order to be fully present to your friend. Sometimes when I meet someone for coffee I arrive early just to slow down on the inside. You might start or practice with simple questions:
- Where have you noticed God’s presence in your day?
- Where has He seemed absent? What is getting in the way of experiencing Him?
- Why not grab a friend and go to Starbucks and get started?