Day 16 - GREEDY GRATITUDE

Greedy Gratitude 30 Day Devotional

Day 16 - FRIENDSHIP

"There are "friends" who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 NLT

“I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise. Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee. And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.”

—The Fellowship of the Ring

It’s one of my favorite cinematic scenes of the heart. You know, the moments you watch something and your heart starts to beat within moving that warm blood throughout your entire body. We are J.R.R. Tolkien “Lord of the Rings” fans around our house and it’s one thing to read a book and another to see it come to life in front of you. Peter Jackson, who directed the films, definitely did it right. The scene I’m referring to happens at the end of the first film when Frodo breaks off from his companions at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. All except Sam willingly let him go, not understanding his decision to travel alone. As Frodo rows away from shore, Sam, who cannot swim, runs into the water after him. Sam quickly starts drowning and Frodo reaches into the water to save him. Once aboard the boat, Sam uses these words to explain his refusal to let Frodo go on alone. The promise he refers to is the promise he made to Gandalf when Gandalf recruited him to be Frodo’s traveling partner. Sam may seem like just a bumbling hobbit, but his steadfastness, even in the face of Frodo’s willful determination, shows him to have a tough inner core that will prove invaluable to Frodo as the journey continues.

Samwise Gamgee embraces Frodo who has just saved his life from "The Lord of the Rings"

Samwise Gamgee embraces Frodo who has just saved his life from "The Lord of the Rings"

 

Life is a journey and the friendships you gain along the way are rare. I’m not talking about acquaintances or people you see occasionally at work or once a week at church. I’m talking about those friends that get in the muck with you, stay on the path with you and choose to never leave. That was Samwise Gamgee to Frodo. He wasn’t planning on leaving and proved it in this scene chasing after his friend and nearly drowning in the process. 

Friendship. It’s such a beautiful thing. We see models of it all throughout God’s Word... from Ruth and Naomi to David and Jonathan to Jesus and his disciples. All of these men and women defying the odds to see people in their lives succeed even better than they personally ever could. Isn’t that the art of friendship? Sacrificing it all to see someone else’s life find hope, peace, love and courage at times even greater than your own. Did you know that across the United States, “selfie-sticks” are considered weapons? At a recent NBA game I attended with some friends, we had to return our stick to the car because it was forbidden inside. I chuckled and thought about how it also can be a weapon of the soul. Most of us struggle to keep deep, real, genuine friendships with others because we are too immersed in ourselves. Wanting our needs met. Wanting the phone call and text to come to us. We are unwilling to reach outside of our personal love languages to meet the needs of someone else even when it makes us uncomfortable. One of my favorite friendships in the New Testament is Jesus and Peter. It doesn’t get any more real than this. A devoted follower, Peter pledged his allegiance to Christ on every level. That is, until he was tested…really tested. And, that seems to be the mark of most relationships. Failure sets in and we recluse. We let go. We get offended and the relationship fades. The mark of a true friend is their response when  you do fail. No doubt they will. Like Samwise Gamgee, Jesus doesn’t hold this against us but chases after our hearts with forgiveness and love. Jesus gives Peter another chance to show his true passion for their relationship and uses Peter’s failure to strengthen this man’s character. True friendship strengthens our character and always leaves us better than it found us. Is that the kind of friend you are? Instead of focusing on praying for that sort of friend to find you, why not you step out and stay the course with someone. Come alongside them and BE that kind of friend. Be an EXTRAVAGANT FRIEND to those who need one. There is no doubt that your gratitude for others will grow in ways you could never expect. After all, this is the friend we have in our heavenly Father. One who leads the example of sticking closer than a brother. Who follows us out into the deep water even when we are trying, like Frodo, to retreat alone.

ACTION STEP: If you have a friend that has gone through the tough seasons with you and has not given up, take a moment today to find a creative way to THANK THEM. Whatever their love language is (words, gifts, time…) take a moment to LET THEM KNOW your gratitude. If you are struggling to find that sort of friend, then DETERMINE to be one. Find someone and reach out to them today and start the journey of building a relationship not on what they can do for you but how you can serve them.