Friendship, listening, and empathy: A Prayer GuideTwo Hands: Grief and Gratitude in the Christian LifeSabbath Keeping FastingA Renewed SpiritualityNurturing Hope: Christian Pastoral Care in the Twenty-First CenturyThe Power of ListeningJoy Together: Spiritual Practices for Your CongregationPersonality Type in CongregationsPrayers of the Old TestamentPrayers of the New TestamentSabbathFriendingA Garden of Living Water: Stories of Self-Discovery and Spiritual GrowthDeath in Dunedin: A NovelDead Sea: A NovelDeadly Murmurs: A NovelBeating Burnout in CongregationsReaching Out in a Networked WorldEmbracing MidlifeAdvent DevotionalDraw Near: Lenten Devotional by Lynne Baab, illustrated by Dave Baab

Partners in experiencing God’s grace

Lynne Baab • Tuesday November 10 2020

Partners in experiencing God’s grace

Forty-five years ago this month, a fellow named Dave invited me over for dinner. We had met in August at a birthday party, then in September we were assigned to the same small group at a ten-day InterVarsity Christian Fellowship conference. In October, we found ourselves in the same fellowship group at church and in a small group together. By November, we were walking on the Burke-Gilman trail in Seattle, talking about the parallels in our families of origin, and Dave invited me to dinner at his apartment. He slapped some pork chops and canned cream of mushroom soup into a crock pot – very greasy! – and served it over rice. But the conversation was wonderful.

Dave had become a Christian earlier that year, and I had been a Christian three and a half years. When we got engaged in February, one of the members of our fellowship group, a medical student named Doug, asked if he could talk to me about something important. Of course I said yes. Doug told me he was concerned because Dave was such a young Christian, and I was a more mature Christian.

In reply, I told Doug that I could see Dave’s heart, that Dave was seeking God with an intensity and purity that assured me that I would always be blessed by his faith and that we would be partners in following Christ together.

I am so grateful for Doug’s question to me, because it helped me articulate something important about Dave and something that has proved to be foundational for our marriage.

In 2 Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul talks at length about Jesus’ second coming. After Paul’s discussion about the future, he writes this to the Thessalonians:

“But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.”
          —2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Dave has truly been my partner in all these things: experiencing God’s salvation and sanctification together and helping me stand firm and hold fast to God’s truth. Often God gives us comfort, good hope and strength through the people around us, and Dave has brought God’s presence to me in that way. I am very blessed to have a husband who has helped me grow in faith. I was right when I told Doug I could see Dave’s heart.

Hopefully, many of you experience this kind of support from one or more family members: spouse, parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins or children. Hopefully all of you have Christian friends – “brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord” – who help you experience comfort, good hope, strength and the ability to stand firm and hold fast to God’s word.

In these strange days when we are thinking about our lives from a different perspective, I encourage you to take a moment to think about the people who have helped you stand firm and hold fast to your faith in Christ. Think about people whose heart you can see – and whose heart of faith has blessed you. Drop one or two of them a text, email, or even handwritten note. The people who partner with us in faith are so very precious.

God of love, who is present with us even when the reality we’re living in feels strange and uncomfortable, thank you for the comfort, good hope, and strength you give us. Thank you for the people who help us hold onto your comfort, good hope, and strength. Help us notice their role in our lives and thank you for them. Help us thank them, too.

(Next week: three passages on new things. Illustration by Dave Baab. I love getting new subscribers. If you’d like to receive an email when I post on this blog, sign up below under “subscribe.”)

I have done some writing on friendship:

I also recorded three short videos (3-5 minutes each) about friendship (such a time tunnel to see myself from 2011 – but fascinating to see that friendship issues today aren’t very different from 9 years ago):

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