I was bathing my then 4 year old daughter one evening after dinner. Earlier that day she had been to preschool at our church where they were rehearsing some songs for the end of the year program. As she slid all over the bathtub, she belted out from the top of her lungs a song they were teaching her.
She sang “I am a friend of God, I am a friend of GOOOOOOOD…I am a friend of GOOOOD…He calls me NAMES!”
She kept singing, totally oblivious to the fact she had messed up the lyrics. The real lyrics are “I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God He calls me friend.” Not only did she add an extra UMPH to the word God, but she also said He calls her names. I tried not to hurt her feeling by bursting out loud with laughter, but it was too hard to keep it in.
She heard me laugh and said “Mommy, what’s so funny?”
“Nothing baby.” I replied with a big ole’ smile on my face. “I like the way you sing that song.”
The song in it’s original form reminded me of a prayer I had prayed to God earlier that same year. I attended my very first Bible study and for the first time I heard the video teacher say we can be friends with God. Friends with God? That was a weird and uncomfortable statement for me, but there it was in plain view. Right there in the Bible, James 2:23 “And the scripture was fulfilled that says “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend”
Wait, what? God as a friend? Up until that point, it had never even crossed my mind that God could be a friend. I always thought He was too big, too powerful, too boss/master like to be a friend. But I thought I’d ask Him if we could be friends anyway.
Fast forward to now. My sweet little preschool baby girl is now in middle school and I am now fully receiving my friendship status with God.
A few months ago I wrote a post on depression. (Feelings Vs. Truth) I was in a pretty nasty slump and found myself sleeping all day, eating tons of junk food and getting little to no exercise.
I told him “Father, you’ve got to help me out of this. I have no structure in my life now that I’m not working. I need you to tell me what time I need to get up, what to eat and when, when to exercise. I need you to function. I don’t want to just sleep my days away anymore. I need rules to be a better me!”
He replied “You are not a robot and I am not your programmer.”
I instantly got it. Our relationship is much more personal than that! He’s not my boss, he’s my friend. Over the years, we’ve grown into friendship with each other. My prayer had been answered and I didn’t even know it.
I realized how our relationship has progressed from the beginning to where we are today. I went from slave, to servant, to friend. A sermon from Bethel Church (God on Mute) illustrates this beautifully. I’ll try to paraphrase – “As a slave, we receive a list of to-do’s from our master. As a servant, we spend some time with the master and maybe even go into his house, but we still carry out the to-do’s. As friends…we hang out together, eat meals together. We dream up new things together, tell each other secrets and share a personal intimacy. There are still things to be done, but now we are co-laborers and we do it together. ”
Friends don’t set rules for each other. Friends dream together. Friends plan for their future together. Friends become like each other.
Don’t get me wrong. God is still fully God. Still the creator of the universe, and I do submit to his authority, but our relationship has reached a whole new level. We dream together now. There are things I’ve wanted to do for a very long time with him that align with who he is. In fact, right now, in this very moment of our relationship, we’re dreaming up something HUGE together and I can’t wait to share it! It’s too early still, but when the time is right, you bet I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops!
I dream and create with God because he is more than a master, he is my friend.
I realize he didn’t give me a list of rules on how to be a better me like I wanted him to, not because he was being cold or distant, but because he trusts me in our relationship. He knows I’ll listen to him if I’m getting off track. He knows I’ll come to him if I need help or guidance. He’s equipped me to make decisions and because we are in constant contact, my decisions will be influenced by him because we are friends.
I pray that you too receive your identity as a friend of God. I pray that you live in the freedom of knowing you’re a son or a daughter of not only the best Father in the world, but the best Friend in the world too. I pray you walk in confidence, a confidence that can only come from God. I pray you know he is your biggest fan and he will never leave you. I pray you dream BIG dreams with him! Dreams that impact your world and the people you know and love forever. I pray you spend lots of time at his table hanging out, remembering how he’s always been a faithful friend. I pray the two of you talk about your future and most importantly, grow in your friendship.