“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web ―
Today, in Part Two of my Practical Love Series, I take a moment to remember the incredible friendships that God has given to me. The Bible says that the greatest love is to lay down your life for a friend (John 15:13), and some of my friends have done that in an eminently practical way–they’ve made a hundred sacrifices, both small and huge, in order to bless me.
If you missed the first part of the series, please do go back and read Part One: The Language She Knew By Heart.
To my dear sisters who have stuck by me through the years and always inspire me to cling to Jesus in everything: This is for you.
I wasn’t there.
But I can see her.
Her long fingers—often busy plucking strings and wielding pens and stirring up biscuits and feeding sheep—glide along an old piece of varnished cedar. Old, but the two-toned wood gleams still.
Her eyes, those sea-foam green orbs that glisten when she tells me about her latest story idea, sparkle now too. She’s stayed up at night trying to dream up something for my birthday. Then she saw the wood. And she knew.
She knows me, the girl-woman she only sees at church. Knows that I truly care, maybe care more than most have dared to love her.
She knows that I understand the inner draw to characters, the unquenchable spark inside to tell a story. She knows that sharp words or cringing shyness or late-night discussions or you-are-totally-crazy looks won’t drive me away. She knows I’ll keep coming back, because God’s put me here, with her.
In a way, she’s my little sister. I thank God for the day He made our lives intersect.
So, in the weeks before my birthday, she scrounges around and finds a still-radiant piece of cedar and a sheet of smooth particle board and a couple old hinges and she pours her heart and love into crafting a treasure straight from her heart.
And, that Sunday at church, the week of my birthday, she gives me her heart-gift.
A lap-top writing desk.
“So you can write in the car,” she says. She bites her lip. “It’s not very good, I know.”
My throat swells and I want to shed tears right there. All I can do is hug her and keep saying thank you.
But my heart said so much more.
Inside, I marveled that somehow God had found for me a place in her heart.
I don’t love her perfectly. I don’t know how, all the time. For having spent twenty-one years in a world full of people, you would think I ought to understand them better.
She is the same way–with love in process, like mine.
Perhaps that is what made my heart swell with unshed tears that Sunday as I caressed the smoothed sides of the cedar lap desk. We both were unfinished, imperfect, not quite symmetrical–much like the dear box that she labored over. A friendship with a few loose nails, a few cracks that need filled with glue.
Remembering now, my heart has a joyful kind of ache, like the rise of a symphony’s crescendo.
My friend’s gift reminds me of the widow who put in her last pennies, or the woman who poured out her perfume, or the child who gave up his lunch to Jesus.
They gave all they had. Imperfect, perhaps. Sin-marred, yes. But, swelling from awakened hearts, the gifts were accepted. Jesus opened His arms with joy.
Those people were unfinished, imperfect, not quite symmetrical. They had a loose nails and cracks in need of filling. But Love does that–it covers and washes and purifies and finishes the less-than-complete, making it not just acceptable, but absolutely Perfect.
Maybe that’s why a small wooden box looks a lot like love to me. It’s not about the gift itself. It’s about a girl who let me see a little more of what love really is.
Something like a lump steals to my throat.
And, in my heart, something like redemption breaks into song.
“If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”
– 1 John 4:12-16, NKJV, emphasis mine –
How have your friends shown you the real meaning of love?
Comment below and share!
A super thank-you to Lisa Runnels at Public Domain Pictures for today’s photo!