When we are drowned in the overwhelming seas of the love of God, we find ourselves in a new and particular relation to a few other fellows…The word Fellowship is discovered, but the word is pale and thin in comparison with the rich volume and luminous bulk and warmth of the experience which it would designate. For a new kind of life-sharing and of love has arisen of which we had had only dim hints before. Thomas R. Kelly
A Testament of Devotion
When God bonds the hearts of two people, the love is a special kind of love that gives us glimpses of His agape love for us; His unconditional love for us. This is the kind of experience Thomas Kelly is talking about in the quote above. We generally talk about God bonding the hearts of people during marriage ceremonies. However God also can give us the gift of this type of love for our spiritual friends – those with whom we share a deep love of Christ and a desire to follow Him in mission and service.
Over the past few years, God has really surprised me by allowing me the agape experience with a few “fellows” – sister’s in Christ with whom my heart has been undeniably and supernaturally bonded. Initially these relationships scared and confused me. While I have experienced deep love for and from my husband, family members, and friends, these new relationships have been different – not better or worse, just different. As Kelly says, this is a new kind of life-sharing and love of which I had only dim hints before. I find it difficult to describe, but amazingly wonderful and clearly a gift from God. Tilden Edwards, an author who writes about spiritual growth, calls these “spiritual friendships”, created and nurtured by the Holy Spirit.
I tend to be a private person, but with these few people, God has given me the desire to share all of myself – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Surrender has been easier than I have ever experienced it before. I have been surprised that they have felt the same call to be authentic and vulnerable, even though in some cases, the relationships were very young. Our bond comes from our deep love of God, our call to serve Him, and I believe, from our mutual practice of seeking Him in silence and prayer on a regular basis. Sometimes we do this together, more often separately in our own quiet times.
This is the type of spiritual friendship and love that God intends when He sends us into ministry two by two, and when He calls us to be the Church. However, I find it to be soooo rare. Through the Holy Spirit, the bonding provides confidence and assurance that God is in control of our messed up world. My experience is that the Holy Spirit uses these relationships to produce powerful change, personal spiritual growth, and amazing fruit for the kingdom.
Perhaps these spiritual friendships were offered to me in the past, but I was not ready to accept them as the gifts they were intended to be. Friendships – true friendships and not just friendships of convenience – take time. Perhaps, in the past (absolutely, not perhaps!!) I was too busy to be in true relationships – I was too busy building relationships with people who could help me accomplish my own goals. I know I was not spending enough time with God and allowing Him to soften my heart to the others He was putting in my path. I regret the wasted years, yet rejoice in today’s riches.
Are there people that God has put in your path with whom He seeks to bond your heart in spiritual friendship? How might He be calling you to Himself and to them in a way that could change both of your lives forever?
Consider joining us Friday, March 21- Sunday, March 23 for a time of personal reflection, scripture reading, prayer, rest, and quiet time to increase our ability to discern what God is doing in our life. The theme for our time together will be “You Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” Psalm 139:14, and we will focus on developing a more beautiful relationship with God.
To register: http://seekingstillness.org/dates-registration.