I am blessed to have amazing friends. Just this past week a text to a few friends requesting prayer for a concern was answered with “praying” and follow up texts to check on how everything turned out and to offer further encouragement. There are wonderful stories of friendship in the Bible – David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, Mary and Elizabeth, Jesus and his disciples to name a few.
Today I have been thinking about Mary and Elizabeth. The Bible tells us they were relatives, some believe they were cousins. They were both expecting their first child within months of each other. Both had unusual (to say the least) pregnancy stories to tell. Elizabeth, who was barren for many years was finally expecting in her old age. Mary, who was young and a virgin, was expecting due to the Holy Spirit. Wow!
“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women,and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:39 -45 NIV
Elizabeth upon seeing Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit and realizes the remarkable news Mary has come to share. How special the time they spent together must have been. Two women – one old, one young, friends, both pregnant journeying through this period of their life together. I am so glad we have a record of their time together recorded in the gospel of Luke. Dee Brestin in her book The Friendships of Women states:
“Mary knew the Scriptures, as evidenced by her Magnificat. Elizabeth had just come out of five months of seclusion with the Lord. Both must have been eager to feast on the other’s knowledge of prophecy. Can you imagine what it would be like to be pregnant with a child whose destiny was predicted in Scripture? And how caring of God to provide this sharpening time for Mary and Elizabeth to prepare for a future filled with joy and sorrow.” p. 148
I am blessed to have amazing friends. Each one challenges and blesses me in an unique way. Some are people I have known for years and others are newly found. I love what CS Lewis says about friendship in The Four Loves “Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” The Bible gives me examples of friendship like Mary and Elizabeth and Jesus gives me instruction on friendship.
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love. I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father. You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you. But remember the root command: Love one another.” John 15:9 – 17 The Message
Remember “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” CS Lewis The Four Loves
My prayer for you this month is you will have time to enjoy a few moments with a friend or two to refresh or reflect or recharge. Be intentional in your friendships. Love one another.
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