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FIRST-PERSON: How to have great friends

OPELIKA, Ala. (BP)–If I could only use two words to define my friend Paula, they would be “southern” and “southern.” Paula recently traveled with me to the West Coast, bringing with her all of the charming lingo that separates Alabama from the rest of our country. Paula doesn’t assume, she “reckons.” She doesn’t laugh, she “gets tickled.” She doesn’t get angry, she gets “mad as fire.”

Traveling with Paula was definitely an adventure. Both of us being directionally challenged, we spent more time asking for directions than we did enjoying the lovely landscape of Southern California. After a mere two-minute conversation with us, the car rental manager was so concerned about the well-being of his vehicle that he gave us his home telephone number. As for the Mustang convertible we rented, well, let’s just say that lowering the top while traveling at 65 mph down the San Diego Freeway is not a good idea.

Exhausted from the trip, we sat quietly on the airplane as the flight attendant robotically announced the ABCs of what to do in case of a crash. She had just explained how the seat cushions could be used as floatation devices and how to properly adjust the oxygen masks when, suddenly, Paula made up for all of the “ditsy” things we did over the weekend with one profound statement. “I do believe they are misrepresenting the ABCs in this situation,” she whispered. “Seat cushions and oxygen masks won’t amount to a hill of beans if this airplane falls 30,000 feet out of the sky. What they ought to be sayin’ is A-admit, B-believe and C-confess, because salvation in Jesus is the only thing that can really save these folks if we crash and burn!”

At this moment it struck me how wonderful it is to have friendships where Jesus is Lord. Because Paula and I are more than friends (we are sisters in Christ), we encourage one another to see Jesus in everyday situations. Something as simple as a flight attendant’s ABC safety precautions offer opportunity for Christian friends to discuss and ponder the goodness of God. And so we did.

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As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are charged in the Scriptures to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24), to “encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25) and to talk about God’s commands “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).

In our friendships, we have so many opportunities to encourage one another in Christ. When we desire to learn spiritual lessons from the happenings around us, we find ourselves meditating on the presence of God in our daily lives. This sort of meditation places Christ at the center of our thoughts. When we share those spiritual lessons with friends, He becomes the center of their thoughts as well.

Pondering and discussing the qualities of God in everyday situations sharpens our minds, feeds our souls and nurtures our awareness of His presence at all times. It is when we look for God that He reveals Himself.

“He who seeks finds,” Jesus said. Focusing on Christ in our friendships brings us closer to one another and closer to Him. As we commit ourselves to looking for God in the heartbeat of life, finding Him and sharing Him with friends becomes as easy as ABC!
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Ginger Plowman, author Don’t Make Me Count to Three, is the founder of Preparing the Way Ministries, for which she speaks at women’s events, parenting conferences, and homeschool conventions across the country. You can visit her website at www.gingerplowman.com.