St. John’s University, Collegivelle, MN, 56231 2006
Friday, July 3
By Kim Moore
I will exalt you, Lord for you lifted me out of the depth and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
David could say these things because he had experienced them many, many times. Throughout his life as a shepherd, harpist, giant slayer, warrior, leader, outlaw, king, adulterer and ‘family man’, David had leaned on the Lord time and again to help him. And the Lord always came through.
David’s many ‘death defying’ experiences served to entrench his relationship with the Lord who saved him each time. His was not a casual ‘love’ for the Lord but one that was felt in the most personal way humanly possible. David would never forget how many times he was in need of help, in despair, and how, each time, the Lord heard his prayers, listened to his laments, sat with him and saved him.
David’s experiences that he shared with the Lord strangely remind me of rope. The rope is really an ingenious invention. It’s just multiple strands of fiber woven together so that the composite ends up being stronger than each individual strand. They’re twisted in one direction to make braids which can be twisted in the opposite direction to make larger braids and so on.
The real strength of the rope is not just in the number of strands it has or of the weight it takes to break it, as in ‘tensile strength’. It’s more in the ‘working load’ which assumes the rope may be knotted, distorted, compressed, bent around itself or something else so that the working load is a small fraction of the tensile strength.
That’s sort of the way relationships are. The individual strands represent the different dimensions or experiences in a relationship. The more strands, the stronger the relationship. And in the twists and turns of life, where it’s not always clean and neat, we get distorted, compressed, bent around situations and the working load of some relationships grow stronger.
War veterans, who have been on the battlefield, talk of foxhole experiences. “He was not just my buddy; he saved my life. I was wounded and couldn’t move. He came back to the field and risked his life to carry me to safety. I will never forget what he did for me. He is an amazing person; I owe him my life.”
The quiet comfort of a good friend can make some life events bearable. “When my mother was dying, way too early, and I was trying to deal with the stress of everyday life, grieving, you stopped your life and came to spend it with me. You left your kids and your husband and you sat and cried with me, listened to me, got food for me. I am so grateful for you. And I will never forget what you did.”
That’s what David seems to be saying. And, when he says ‘. . . His anger is but for a moment but his favor is for a lifetime’, it feels to me he is saying “I really want you to know Him. He is so amazing. Look at what He’s done for me. You just can’t imagine how low and how near gone I was. But now those times seem like distant memories. He picked me up, healed me and helped me truly live again.”
Bonded relationships start with one experience at a time. If you live next door to someone, that’s one dimension. You may be really good neighbors and share some happy events together. But it’s still just a one-dimensional relationship.
Maybe you also go to the same church. And maybe you’ve served on several committees together. Now the relationship has more dimensions.
So, maybe you’re also about the same age as your ‘neighbor’ and you both have kids that grew up together. And two of those kids played basketball together . . . for maybe 4+ years. There are a lot of experiences that you share through those years. Traveling tournaments. Great wins. Tough losses. Injuries. Personality conflicts. Emotions.
All combined, some are personal, some are spiritual. Some are fun and some are funny. Some exhausting. Some even frustrating.
Maybe you take family trips together. Snow skiing. Beach trips. Family cruise. Hunting trips. Cook outs.
As the relationship gains more depth, it’s likely there will be some painful times shared. Financial struggles. Job loss. Personal life tragedies.
Suppose your spouse contracts cancer. Your ‘neighbor’ ends up becoming the chauffeur to your kids, spends time bringing meals, visiting the hospital, communicating with friends, coordinating food. Spending time just to be ‘there’.
And eventually helping write the obituary. Your ‘neighbor’ is the one who stays at the house after the funeral when everyone has left. And is the one that keeps showing up long after.
Your kids grow up and move away and eventually are in each other’s weddings. And your ‘neighbor’ speaks at your daughter’s rehearsal dinner.
Over time, this ‘neighbor’ has become a part of you. Like a rope, you’re braided together into one friendship that becomes unlike any other, special and forever. At some point, there’s not a lot that could separate you. Certainly not politics, religion or money.
We need these types of relationships with the depth and strength and bonds that cannot be broken. This ‘pandemic’ and economic uncertainty will certainly be an experience that we won’t soon forget. And life continues to happen through this as well. The help that each of us can provide to others will never be forgotten. And it can serve to strengthen our relationships in ways that only shared trials can do.
God gives us relationship opportunities and life experiences through which to test and build them. But they take time. Our relationship with God, just like with our closest friends, takes a lifetime to fully cultivate. But they can each be rich and rewarding at every stage from beginning to end. This was a reminder to me to take time to dwell on and celebrate the relationships in my life and to continue to be willing to let them grow.
“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!” Robert Browning