I have a friend, that every so often will come and visit the church I attend. I love her because she is a dear, helpful soul that never seeks attention for what she does but quietly goes about her business of raising her children and doing for others.
It so happened that she was at church recently and we visited for awhile. There is always something to say when there are 20 children between friends. :) I got to thinking about the first time we'd met.
17 years ago my husband and I were contemplating home education. We had 3 little children and our oldest was in kindergarten. Through a series of circumstances we were invited to go to a home school gathering that a local church was putting on. It had been advertised on the radio inviting all the home educating families in the area to come.
Back then I was not a Christian and I wasn't used to being around Christians, especially Christians of the home educating variety. I say this with the greatest affection but they were different. There was such a radical difference between them and me. I would now say the difference was Christ but back then I could only say it was clothing and the number of children. I think its kind of normal to think others are judging us (harshly maybe) for the same things we are judging them for.
My friend was one of the first to introduce herself to me. There I stood in my tight jeans and shirt, feeling like an outsider and there she stood in her denim jumper and head covering, (which I'd only seen Amish wear up until then) holding a baby on her pregnant belly and little mini's of herself and husband running around, joyfully playing.
She talked to me for awhile and I got my nerve up to ask her about having so many children, home schooling and discovered that she was just people. Standing there in her denim blues, holding a baby, pregnant, smiling, visiting with me, God ministered to my lonely soul. Without knowing God at all, I got a glimpse of his heart and I wanted to see more. It was her clothing and children that at first drew my attention. Yet, when I thought back to our visit, it wasn't her clothes or children that came to mind. I thought about how genuinely nice she had been to me.
I didn't know much about Christians but I was becoming interested and I knew enough to know that Christians were supposed to be different. I was searching and unbeknownst to me, God was fixin to surround me with real Christian women. It wasn't their clothes or children that made them different really, it was their hearts. God loved me through these women.
I became a Christian not quite a year later. My new friend, although I only saw her on occasion, always talked to me. Every time I saw her she was the same, the only change being the new baby in her arms and MAN! did I wanted to be like her.
Fast forward to standing and visiting at church. We visited for a bit and then she had to go and I gathered up my offspring and headed out to the van, reflecting on my friend and how I had so wanted to be like her. I questioned myself....did I still want to be like her? The answer? Not really. Not because she had changed but because I have changed. Somewhere along the path of life my goal made a metamorphosis. Denim jumpers and lots of children never make for a real Christian. Christ and Christ alone is what makes a Christian. It was never really my friend that I wanted to be like. It was Jesus in her that I desired.
Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.