There are few things more cherished in a life than a true friend. A friend that will always stand beside you, will always believe the best for you and will embrace you during your darkest times. The Bible says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17) “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) I prayed to God for such a friend. God answered my prayers, and gave me my dearest companion Cathie Lichtenberger.
The definition of friend is somebody who you can trust and are fond of, an ally, a defender or supporter or an advocate (Encarta Dictionary). Our pastor not too long ago defined friend as someone you could call at 2am in the morning needing help with a flat tire. Cathie is that friend to me.
In 2006, I had a company for mothers. Each month I would pick a “Mom of the Month” and highlight her life, family, and goals. Out of hundreds moms registered on my web site, I chose Cathie Lichtenberger. We exchanged email addresses never fully comprehending the plan God had designed for each of us. As our emails grew more frequent, we finally began phone conversations, realizing how much each of us loved the Lord. By the end of December 2006, we were communicating weekly for she lived in San Antonio, TX and me in Plantation, FL. She has been an encourager to me, strengthening me to rise higher and achieve God’s plan for my life.
A friend is someone who challenges you. Challenges you to come up higher, to keep going when the trials hit home, and prays with you in those darkest hours.
When the angel told Mary her cousin Elizabeth was going to have a baby, just as she was pregnant with the seed of the Messiah, the two were a comfort to each other. Elizabeth had been in seclusion for five months, but her little one jumped in the womb when confronted with the Lord of Lord’s in Mary. The two, quietly pondered the working of the Holy Spirit, together praising, worshiping and giving thanks to God. I’m sure the two women exchanged stories into the wee hours of the morning. Each in wonder with the other, encouraged by each other’s testimony and bringing comfort for the unknown creeping into their thoughts.
Elizabeth’s seclusion may have been of wonder, testing, listening for the Lord’s plan, worshiping and amazement. The angel told Mary her cousin was pregnant; Elizabeth never sent word to Christ’s mother, meaning, God wanted these two women together for a time. He ordained it, orchestrated it and was pleased to tell Mary about the birth of John the Baptist.
I do not find it odd God separated Elizabeth for a season. Mark 1:35, the Gospel reads, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to solitary places, where He prayed.” Luke 6:12 describes, “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” Matthew the tax collector in his Gospel writes, “After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” (Matthew 14:23). The good doctor also scribes, “Yet the news about Him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16) I believe during this pregnancy, by divine intervention, Elizabeth withdrew by the Spirit to listen for the Word of God. She withdrew to ponder, meditate on the wonder that was occurring, what it means for God’s people and the purpose she was to fulfill as a mother. At the perfect time, the angel came to Mary and revealed the Lord’s intention. The two were intended to be together, Elizabeth withdrawn and powerfully in prayer, could encourage this young girl and support her with prayer and praise.
When God births something, you know it will be special.
As you read this, a friend may come to mind and you smile giving thanks for that particular person. As you read this, you may be friendless and desiring a close companion. I encourage you to lay it at the cross. Lay your desire for a true friend, a friend who loves the Lord as you, one who will encourage, challenge and inspire you to rise higher. A friend whom you can confide, knowing your past or deepest thoughts are protected and in safe hands. The Lord will give you someone to fast and pray with, someone who will admonish you when needed and you will not feel the wound for Proverbs 27:6 encourages, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, by an enemy multiplies kisses.” I have several companions, but I would never trust some of my deepest thoughts or problems with them. God has given me Cathie for that. I believe in her godly wisdom, discretion and integrity. She would never hold anything back and withdraw the Truth. I trust Cathie will tell me not what I want to hear, but want I need to hear and there is a difference.
There are times these friends may be closer to you than your own family. The Bible is very intuitive to this, as moving farther down in Proverbs, the Bible reads, “Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father and do not go to your brother’s house when disaster strikes you, better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.” (Proverbs 27:10) There are thoughts and dreams I believe God planted in my spirit that only Cathie knows. Dreams I have of doing something great for Him and His Kingdom. Dreams of making disciples of women, spreading the Gospel, and fulfilling the purpose God has for me. I have not told these to my family, not because I do not love them or are not close, but Cathie as been given the same desire and dreams. We mutually share, encourage and pray for one another. God did not send Mary to her mother, sisters or anyone one who may be discouraging to her, but to the very person who also had a seed of hope planted in her. We are not to tell “everyone” what the Lord plants in our hearts, for please, let us not forget Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37). Not everyone, including your family, may understand your Christian walk or the desires of your heart. Christ experienced this when Mary and His brothers tried to deter Him from His calling (Mark 3:31). Abraham was asked to leave his family and travel to where the Lord would show him (Genesis 12:1).
I encourage you, my sister, in your quest to find this friend; and it is a quest, almost like a treasure hunt.
To find a person who is willing to selflessly give, to selflessly pray and fast for you, to selflessly desire your plan and purpose because this friend loves you, is challenging, rare and at times, only given by the Lord. Continue your prayers, continue in your worship, seeking the Lord’s desires of the friends he wishes you to have. Do not cast off someone so quickly, someone from a different social class, someone from a different race or culture for this may very well be the person God is sending to you. Let us lay it at the cross and give the desires of your heart to the Lord.