As I get older, I realize I have the wonderful pleasure of sharing in the joys of my friends. From graduations to marriages to babies to new jobs to opening new businesses, just wonderful things happening. With these high highs, also come low lows. Just this past year I have had friends experience divorce, miscarriage, depression, bad break ups, death of loved ones, and the list goes on. It really just seemed like one fire after another and I’ve had to decide what I would do.
Jesus only had twelve disciples. He had many followers but only twelve walked with Him, day in and day out. So, I don’t believe we should be in the fire with everyone. It can be overwhelming to have that many people surrounding you when you’re going through, smothering almost. Sometimes we just need to be around the fire by checking in with our friends. Let them know you’re there if they need you. This is being around the fire. Now, being in the fire means consistently showing up. In fact, you don’t even have to show up because you’re already there. You’re asking the hard questions, you don’t believe them when they say “I’m okay.” Sometimes when they don’t want to, you drag them along anyway. This takes a special kind of relationship but it is necessary. How many people are willing to be in the fire with you? Better question, how many people are you willing to be in the fire with?
I recently told someone how grateful I was for my father figure (Raynard) because even at my lowest moments, he was there. As believers and followers of Christ we know God loves us and He’ll never leave us or forsake us but when we are going through, sometimes it doesn’t feel like that. But thankfully God uses people to remind us of His love.
In Raynard’s words, “You were in a pit and you didn’t want to get out. You grieved the loss of him (my father) and for a while you became your grief.” That would have been enough to make me take a step back and let my friend figure out their life. But Raynard still called and harassed me, asked me how I was doing, spoke life into me. He was there in the fire. Months after my father passed I was at church, and ran out of the sanctuary crying. Someone saw me and called Raynard. By the time I walked out of the bathroom, he was there. He wasn’t even at church (he was down the street), but when he heard where I was, he came. The fire of grief that was consuming me did not scare him. That’s a lie, he was terrified lol. But he did not allow the fear of the fire keep him from me. He stood with me in it.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about loyalty. This is an aspect of that same loyalty. We talk about going to war for our friends and loved ones over whatever against whoever, but what happens when they’re in a battle with themselves? Will you jump in the fire with them while they’re holding the torch, uninterested in putting it down? There is no water in sight and even if it were, your friend would light you up if you dare touch their flames. There is no time limit, there is no such thing as too hot, it is a temporary home that in the moment feels permanent. Will you be there in the fire with your friend?
I am sure there were many days Raynard prayed God would just send the water and quiet the flames but I learned, and at the same time Raynard learned, you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it, but you have to go through it. And in our going through, we see the hand of God. His love, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, His wisdom. All because a friend decided to stand in the fire with us. Just as Jesus stood in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Daniel 3), be the friend in the fire and watch them come out, not looking or smelling like what they’ve been through.
Standing in the fire