Today I find myself grateful for friends, and my wife. Why? For one, they have seen me for what I am, and remained. Friends and partners over the long-haul will inevitably be exposed to the weaker, rougher, more messed-up parts of us. So when they remain, it’s a powerful encouragement. “Why didn’t that person bail on me?” becomes a powerful question whose answer isn’t so much an answer as it is a gift.
But I’m also thankful for casserole. And homemade bread. And cobbler. My wife recently took these things to a friend who had a tooth pulled. What do you do when a friend has a tooth pulled? Who even knows. But if nothing else is true, there is food for the family to eat, and a simple gesture that you’re seen and known and loved. That you’re not left alone.
Which brings me back to this word: Remain. It’s a dynamic and charged word that Jesus used when talking about our nearness to him in John chapter 15. “Remain in me,” he said, “and you will bear good fruit.” I’ve always taken this as a call to read my bible and pray and meditate a lot. To try to get close to Jesus. To be religious. But what if this call to “remain” is more like friends and spouses who stick around? Who just show up? What if there is power, like in our other relationships, in simply not giving up? In just showing up?
We may think, sometimes, that God has given up on us. Bailed on us. We likely think that some friends have bailed on us – and we on them. But what if they haven’t, and God hasn’t, and they’re just waiting for a text or a call to rekindle the connection? What if they were there all along, longing to repair the friendship, if we’ll just show up?
What if we hung in there, in the rough times and the good, because we clung to the hope that love was bigger than failure and hardship and distance?
This is grace. All of this. Finding our way back to one another, and to God, by hanging in there, because He has not and will not give up on us.
Sometimes all we can do is just hang around – to not give up. There’s nothing we can do. We don’t have words of wisdom, tears of compassion or prayers of faith. But we show up at the door with a casserole for a rough day. Or we open the door, and let our friend in. Then we sit, words failing, and just hang in there, together, and eat.
Grace and Peace,