While on retreat a man began to reflect on his life, his relationships, his friends, and as he did he was surprised to discover that he really had only two good friends. Oh, he knew a lot of people, but in reality there were two he would call friends - companions he did life with. He decided to spend some time reflecting on these friendships and began to discover just how different his friends really were.
One friend, though at times gracious, could also be demanding and exacting, while the other one was free, willing to try new things, push the envelope, have a good time. The first friend did not really like hanging out with the second friend, while the second friend was willing to accommodate the first friend. This awareness helped explain the uneasiness the man felt when they were all together.
As he reflected on all this it suddenly occurred to him that his first friend often seemed disappointed when the man also invited his second friend to join them. And now that he thought about it he began to realize that his first friend would often arrive unannounced when the man was with his second friend - somehow knowing where they would be - then commenting disapprovingly on what they were doing and creating a very uncomfortable situation. How had he not seen this before - the first friend was jealous, possessive, demanding yet could be incredibly loving, tender and kind when it was just the two of them. Yet when they were all together it was not fun, not fun at all. These revelations saddened the man for he enjoyed both of his friends - what if anything should he do?
He decided when he returned home he would visit one of his mentors - a wise old woman who had known him his entire life and who also knew his friends - especially the jealous, possessive and at times demanding one.Yes, she would be able to help him sort this out.
He met with her, sharing his new insights about his friends, over tea and biscuits (yes, I haven’t eaten). She listened intently and when he had finished they sat together in silence. As he waited for her to speak he noticed calmness, a settled-ness washing over him and arising within. He shared this with her. She nodded and smiled broadly seeming pleased with his experience. She placed her cup on the saucer and began to speak. Her words surprised him, she was one to ask insightful and penetrating questions – but not today.
“Your story is as old as time itself”, she began. “And it seems to me you have a choice to make - a choice you may or may not be ready to make. It is no longer possible for you to have both friends for if you continue you will begin to choose one and despise the other.” Now sadness washed over him for he instinctively knew she was right; at some point he would need to make a choice. Her final words gave him pause, “Your choice is between life and death.”
Who would you choose: the first friend (*jealous, possessive and at times demanding) or friend two (willing to try new things, push the envelope, have a good time…)?
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. NLT
*God is a jealous God (Ex 20:5), we are God’s possession (1 Pet 2:9), if anyone wants to follow Jesus they must deny themselves, pick up their cross daily and follow Jesus.
What feelings stir within as you realized the author chose to describe God as jealous, possessive and demanding? Do you agree or disagree with the writer’s description of God in this way – why?
How do you see God – more of a hands off God or hands on God?
What is your level of comfort with this depiction of God? Why?
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