The other day I told my daughter we lost some beautiful women, sisters in the Lord, this year. My friend, Kelly Cox, went to be with Jesus on December 31, 2020. My friend, Ellen Whitmire entered heaven just this past week. “Well done good and faithful servants.” Our loss is heaven’s gain.
I learned of both of their passing from my Facebook news feed. I gotta tell you that news knocked the breath out of me, took away my center of balance. I have no one to blame for my reaction but myself. See I had lost contact with my friends through the years. I could use that age old excuse, “Life got in the way,” but that doesn’t really tell the whole truth of the situation. A day here – a day there would go by, “Oh I meant to text or call Kelly today.” Pretty soon a week, a month, and then a year passed without reaching out. Then one day it shows up on Facebook and your left wondering what happened. I didn’t even know Ellen had been sick.
And the memories come rushing back like floodwaters. These women had been sisters in the Lord for me. They had been faith warriors and examples to me. They had edified me and built me up. Like Aaron and Hur, at times they held up my arms in praise as I faced different battles.
Ellen had been part of a very instrumental group of friends when my children were young. I needed this group of women when I was floundering around as a young mom. I needed them and we each needed the other. “Laughter and tears are my favorite emotion.” Another great quote from the classic movie, “Steel Magnolias.” We definitely had a boat load of laughter and tears. I made my fair share of mistakes as a young mom, but I found grace and empathy from this group of gals. There was no condemnation only edification as we studied God’s Word together. We went to church together. We did discipleship together. It was safe and it was the place, “Where everybody knew you name. They knew why you came.” We were all sinners and needed God’s grace.
After I collected myself and caught my breath, I reached out to the rest of my group of friends. We started a text thread, “The sisterhood of the church ladies.” All day we texted. Sending pictures and sharing memories. Again, laughing and crying all in the same moment. We didn’t miss a beat. It seemed like just yesterday, like a whole lifetime hadn’t passed us by. We were young again. “Who was that skinny young mom? I thought of myself as pictures were shared.” That day just as in days of old, I needed them and we needed each other.
It has been almost a year and a half since our nation first heard the words, “Shelter in place.” At that time I didn’t fully grasp all that entailed. And now, all these months later from every sector of our world, I hear the phrase, “It has been a rough year for everyone.” How true that statement has been. Quarantine was not very kind to me. I’m just gonna be honest here. Quarantine brought out the worst in me. Just ask my husband. I’m afraid he got the full brunt of my frustration. I look back over this last looooooong winter. There was a meme that circulated, “2021, I have tried your free 30 day trial and I think I’ll pass.” I concur when we faced the coldest freeze storm in the century back in February. My disposition was as frozen as the ground was. I now ask myself the question, “Why did I not reach out sooner to “The sisterhood of the church ladies?”
You see, God created us to need fellowship. Fellowship with Him and fellowship with a body of believers. We can’t do this Christianity thing on our own. We need friends who will hold us accountable, lift us up, and sometimes just sit in mud puddles and cry with us.
“Afterward he was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary, called Magdalene (seven demons had come out of her); Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Susanna; and many others who were supporting them from their possessions.”
Luke 8:1-3 CSB
I think of my group of friends as I read the verse above. I think of that great line from “The Chosen.” “I was one way and now I am completely different. And the thing that happened in between was Him.” Each of my friends could say the exact same thing about their lives. Jesus was our common ground. Jesus brought us together. Jesus was our glue. In the same way Jesus brought together Mary, Joanna, Susanna and the other women. They would have never been in community had it not been for Jesus. Jesus chose them. Jesus chose us. And He gave us all the gift of friendship. Jesus gave us a bond that we would have never known had it not been for Him.
I read a statistic the other day that saddened me. It talked of a decline in church attendance among young families. I thought of those days when my children were young and how much I needed my church family.
God has a remnant. We are His Chosen. Don’t make my mistake. Don’t give up on those whom God has placed in your life, those who hold you up, those who build you up, those who sit in the mud puddles of life with you.
Stay faithful my friends. We will meet again. On this side of heaven or His side. We will meet again in the air either way.