One of the joys of a life lived in multiple locations is establishing deep-rooted friendships. Likewise, one of the greatest sorrows is the same. I’m sure many of you can relate. In our first years of marriage, my husband pastored a church in Bakersfield. That is where our first three children were born and where one of my forever best friends still lives. She has walked with me through highs and lows over the last 26 years and would drop everything at a moment’s notice if I called.

Upon entering the Navy we connected with an amazing Life Group at our church in Orange County. Four families with thirteen boys… praise God we were close to the beach and could let them run wild!

Other duty stations have brought precious, devoted women, keeping the home fires burning and encouraging each other while we awaited our husband’s return.

And sometimes God brings dear friends into our lives and then takes them away… far away. Across the country, across oceans, across continents.

As much as I lament rarely being able to go for a walk, paddle board, run, or have coffee with these dear confidants, I would never trade the precious moments we have had. They are forever imprinted on my heart and when we do get to see each other, it is just simply sweet.

These relationships were similar to those that Paul references in 1 Corinthians 16. After fifteen chapters of elaborate instructions to the Church at Corinth, he specifically names seven dear friends, encouragers, and partners in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus. In verses 10 and 11 he tells the church to take it easy on Timothy. He is a young disciple who is eager to learn. In verse 12 he communicates on behalf of Apollos. In verses 17 and 18 he speaks of being refreshed by other believers and then goes on to remind the church to greet all these beloved brethren with a holy kiss.

Paul has been encouraged by these relationships. They have exhorted him, cared for him, journeyed with him, and walked through suffering by his side. Paul is confident of his message and is equally confident that the message of truth that he proclaims is supported by fellow believers who have experienced the same.

We were created for relationships. Relationship with God and relationship with each other. It is through our relationships with others that we are strengthened and encouraged to continue on this journey, living out the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Next time you talk with a “distant friend”, don’t miss the opportunity to encourage him or her in their faith. You have been placed in that person’s life for a reason, even from a distance, to exhort them to be who God created them to be within their own sphere of influence.

Lynette Fuson
Care & Counseling Director

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