An old friend once told me that while taking a client out to lunch, his client asked if it would be okay if he prayed before they ate. Mark was fine with it, and before you know it, his client was thanking God for Mark. It puzzled him a bit, because Mark was used to the same old memorized prayer he’d prayed for years, and so it also made a huge impact on him – big enough that he thought about it a lot, and remembered it for a long time. Years later, it would become part of his testimony as the catalyst in his journey to becoming a Christian. Mark sharing this made an impact on me, too. So now, I like to pray for whoever I’m meeting or eating with. It’s that ripple effect, ya know?
My son once told me that he had lunch with a professor from his college days. Once they sat down and ordered their food, conversation began, and Ian’s professor asked him, “So, how is your relationship with Christ these days?” My son called me on his way home and told me how much that meant to him, that his professor cared enough to ask – like it was the most important thing. Like, let’s just cut to the chase and talk about the most important thing we could talk about first, and then we can chat about everything else. I have a feeling my son asks that question of people he catches up with now. I do, too. It’s that ripple effect, ya know?
I once got pretty involved in researching a certain subject regarding Genesis 6, which ended up taking me down some pretty fascinating rabbit trails. I met some sweet people who were trailing the same paths as me, and we were having a lot of fun. When I was excitedly telling my close friend Sarah about it one day, she said to me… and I’ll never forget it… “Great, Rita. But would you mind telling me how ANY of this is making you look more like Jesus?” That question literally stopped me dead in my tracks. The answer – none of it was making me look more like Jesus. There was nothing wrong with what I was studying, but it wasn’t helping me grow or look more like Christ. She was right. So now when people I love get all tangled up in politics, or conspiracy stuff – which I too, can find fascinating, fun, and often times believable, I remember Sarah’s voice clear as ever, and ask my friend, “How is ANY of this making you look more like Jesus?” It’s that ripple effect, ya know?
I once had a friend whose marriage was falling apart. When his wife left him, he reached out to all of his groomsmen who had stood up in the wedding 25 years prior. 25 years! He asked them to pray. Some did, but the others told him to get a divorce, find a girlfriend, move on. Guess which ones are still his friends today – the ones who prayed. Now I enjoy telling those standing up in weddings how meaningful their role is. It’s a lifetime commitment to their friends, that if and when the marriage goes south, they are committed to point them back to Christ. It’s that ripple effect again, ya know?
Frank Brunetti. If I could find one old friend from my past and thank him for being that brutally honest friend, he’d definitely be the one I’d find. I’ve tried, actually, but no luck. He risked his friendship with me because he cared more about me than he did what I thought of him. I never spoke to him again, but 37 years later, I sure do wish I could thank him. I can’t though. But what I can do is try to be as good a friend to others, as Frank was to me. There goes that ripple effect again.
Listen, I know I could find at least 25 friends in my contacts right now that I could call and they would tell me everything I want to hear. They would. And you probably have at least 25 friends in your contacts who would do the very same thing. But that’s not really the kind of friend I want real close to me, and it’s not the kind of friends I pray will surround my sons and their wives, or their kids. Nope.
The last thing I want is for my friends to excuse my behavior to someone else with any of these phrases – “Oh, that’s just how she is. You have to love her exactly like she is. She’s not ever going to change. You know, she’s been through a lot. Just don’t pay any attention to (fill in the blank).”
Nope. Nope. Nope, Nopity Nope! Those are not friends who have your best interest in mind.
If there’s a booger dangling out of my nose – TELL ME! If there’s a big hole in my hair on the back of my head – TELL ME! If an outfit makes me look like a shlump, or a little too plump, (or maybe even just a little too elderly), mascara is smudged all over my face, or there’s a stain on my blouse, or whatever! I know you would FREAKING TELL ME!
So please, ALSO Pray for me – like Mark’s client did. Ask me how my relationship with Christ is (like Ian’s professor). Be like Sarah, and ask me how in the WORLD does all my mindless scrolling on Instagram reels makes me look more like Jesus. When I’m falling apart, point me to Jesus – like some of Billy’s groomsmen did. If I’m doing something stupid, or acting like a bratty little, too easily offended, spoiled little snot, please risk my not talking to you ever again and point me to Jesus. Yes, be like Frank Brunetti.
And I hereby promise, if you’re my friend – I’m gonna do the same for you! Boogers, bad hair, and dispicable behavior – all of it. You can count on me! That’s how we all help each other get home 🙂
And by the way – that endless, mindless Instagram scrolling? Yeah, that was a confession.
And as for you… don’t let the ripple stop with me. It’s your turn now.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”