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Friday, December 05, 2008

Together

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. (Luke 1:39-40)

My husband's definition of fellowship is a group of Christians all together in the same boat.

Fellowship
We all need fellowship. We all want to have the comfort of feeling that there's someone else who has an understanding of what we're going through. Mary sought out the company of her relative Elizabeth when she discovered what lay in store for her. Quite possibly it was an expedient trip to silence the wagging tongues of judgemental neighbours gossiping about how such a "nice family" could end up with a daughter who'd been sleeping around and got herself pregnant. But the visit also enabled two women, both with an unexpected pregnancy, both with the touch of God on their lives, to share their experiences and to draw strength and comfort from one another.

Jesus, too, had a desire for sympathetic company. We see that most starkly in Gethsemane when He asked the disciples why they couldn't even watch with Him for an hour. But we see also His relationship with Lazarus and his sisters, with the twelve, with Peter and James, and especially with John. There were times when Jesus craved to be alone to spend time with God, and other times when He wanted His friends around Him.

Drawn Together
Mary in her crisis, for despite her humble willingness to be the mother of the Saviour she faced huge challenges, sought out someone she knew who would understand and support her. Age difference didn't matter because they both loved God and recognised they were drawn together by circumstances He had ordained. When they met their fellowship in the Lord was sweet. Elizabeth prophesied and blessed Mary who produced a psalm on a par with those of her ancestor David.

Mary stayed for 3 months and it must have been a joy for these two women to share fellowship and pray together. They would have had so much to pray about - Elizabeth's health as an older mother-to-be and strength to cope with the demands of a new-born; the pain of Mary's tarnished reputation.

Praying Friends
And if Jesus too needed friends, even praying friends (Matt 26:38), how much more do we. I am firmly convinced that every believer needs a praying friend, someone who will love and accept without judgement, who will take your needs to the throne of grace and who can be trusted to keep their mouth shut with everyone else. We need someone in our lives who understands us, who has shared similar spiritual experiences, who can be a guide or fellow travelling companion on our spiritual journey.

I have benefited hugely from such friends. Sometimes circumstances deprive us of each other's company. Often the things we do together or the conversations we have are very ordinary. But there are precious times when these praying friends help us to win battles against temptation, encourage us to stand firm through trials, or simply love us with the love of Jesus. The best of these friends will hear our confessions, keep our secrets and encourage us to press on to our goal of becoming more Christlike.

Prayer College Assignment
Are you a praying friend? If not, look for opportunities to become one. Such friendships cannot be manufactured, they are God given but you can open yourself up to Him working through you in this way by praying for your brothers and sisters in Christ.

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