Walking by Faith Alone

I call You friend…

with 3 comments

My culture is Southern. I grew up a Georgia peach, surrounded by magnolia blooms floating in sterling silver finger bowls, homemade ice cream and mint leaves in sweet tea. Sitting porches were places to spend Sunday afternoons and the Cloister at Sea Island was not a vacation but a home-away from-home. Pecans fell from trees like manna. And nothing tasted as good as Estelle’s fried chicken. Church came every Sunday and our pew was the third row, left side, directly in front of the preacher. My Dad sat in the back row, left side, third seat in the choir loft. Jean Murphy played the piano and sometimes the organ on special occasions. The entire town knew one another. If I did something wrong, my parents would know the whole story, several versions, before I ever got home. Locks on doors were aesthetic additions and never necessary. Life moved slowly, deliberately, and with purpose.

The other day I spoke with a man as we waited in line to check-out at Wal-Mart. He was buying some drill bits. I had a gallon of milk and a bottle of Advil. We laughed because we were waiting for such a long time to purchase only a few things and yet those items were essential to both of us. A price check was called to assist the family checking out and he turned toward me and asked, “Is God your friend?”

I smiled, impressed by his boldness in today’s politically correct world, and answered, “Yes. He is.”

He then replied, “Are you His?”

Hmmmmm…Am I God’s friend?

Isaiah 41:8, “You, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham MY FRIEND.”

James 2:23, “And he (Abraham) was called the Friend of God.”

Years ago I was walking on the beach very early in the morning and noticed that our beach umbrella was blowing down the sandy terrain towards the water. I started to run after it and as gallant as a knight in shining armour can be, an older gentleman chased after it and brought it to me. To my utmost surprise, it was former President Jimmy Carter in tennis shorts and wearing a familiar smile. I recognized him immediately and with great admiration began to stumble over my words, trying to find some ample way to greet him and thank him all at the same time. The encounter took only moments, but for me, will never be forgotten. I actually hugged his neck as Southerners do and watched as he continued on his walk as I stood dumb-founded, umbrella in hand.

Does former President Jimmy Carter remember the day he rescued Nora Hatchett’s umbrella on Sea Island’s sandy terrain? Does Nora Almazan remember and call him “my dear friend, Jimmy?” I think you can decipher the answers to both.

So why did God call Abraham His friend?

The question brought me to my knees at 4:30am this morning, realizing that most of us claim with certainty “God is my friend! Oh yes! I know God.” But how many of us can God call His friend?

By definition, a friend is someone with whom we are comfortable. Friends complete us. We can trust our friends. And a true friend stands by us, never betrays us, and would drop everything they have to rescue us.

I described God perfectly; but, did I describe you? And me?

Abraham grew-up in Ur, the son of a wealthy man who actually worshipped idols. I’m sure Abraham felt about Ur the way I feel about the South. It was his culture and what he knew. It was where he belonged. But God asked him to leave it and go where he’d never been before. Abraham stepped out in faith and earned the privilege of being referred as a Friend of God.

Genesis 12:1, “1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “

Abraham didn’t say, “Well, my finances aren’t in order. The kids love their soccer teams. My wife could never really be happy not knowing if there is a Junior League there or if the school system is good. Where will I live? Who will be my neighbors? What about church, I was just appointed to the Deacon’s Board? Show me first God where I’m going, then ask me.”

Genesis 22:1-12, “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

The most significant part of this verse to me is Abraham’s simple response when God called his name, “Here I am.”

Such thoughts penetrated my mind in the wee hours of the morning and I fell to my knees at 4:30am because I realized how easy it was for me to say, “God is my friend.” He is the one “giving His all.” He rescues my strandedness over and over again. But why couldn’t I answer with certainty to the man in line at Wal-Mart that God could call me His friend?

Most of us enjoy a one-sided friendship with God, the Creator of the Universe. We proclaim with arms raised in full praise, “I can call God my friend!” The question to answer then is Can God call you His?

Step out of your comfort zone and respond to God’s calling for your life. Respond as Abraham, “Here I am.”

It is time for us to be people God can call friends.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

January 3, 2012 at 2:01 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Here I am…this is truly a good New Year’s resolution!
    Thanks Nora.

    Lee Garner

    January 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm

  2. Good post Nora!! Thought provoking! Happy 2012!

    Anne Roberts

    January 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    • I put all my trust in Jesus! Keep up the inspiring thoughts Nora.

      Sue Hoffmann

      January 4, 2012 at 4:36 am

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