Friends that ‘outdo one another’

Greater love image revisedMy dear sweet friend had more on her to-do list than 200 people could accomplish in one week, but she didn’t flinch when my situation changed her plans.

She looked into my eyes and saw the 98-mile trek back home was going to be a challenge for me to accomplish on my own. She made a few quick adjustments to her return-trip plan, grabbed my car keys and tucked me safely into the passenger seat.

It was merely one of those crazy headaches I get every once in a while, but it was enough to make a simple hour and a half drive on the interstate seem daunting.

The day before another sweet friend secured a babysitter and hit pause on her routinely hectic day so we could celebrate our May birthdays over lunch. She also stuck around for several hours to help me with an important assignment that was on a tight deadline.

For the past few weeks — really for the past five months — my dear friends at The Alabama Baptist have worked extra hours or gone out of their way to help me with so many different personal and professional tasks, projects and assignments.

‘Love one another’

And then there are friends from church, my neighborhood and beyond who constantly surprise me with an encouraging word, a needed hug or a random act of kindness.

I am so blessed to be surrounded by such a crowd of special friends.

The Word tells us in John 15:12–15: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

“You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

And in Colossian 3:12–14, Paul says: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Doing life together

I sometimes have a hard time accepting help. I’m stubborn like that but I’m learning I really can’t walk life’s journey on my own. I definitely need the help of friends, and I love doing things for friends as well.

The little things are really fun and something I hope I never forget to do, but it is the helping in times of extreme need that fills my heart.

It is such a special gift for me when I get the privilege of doing something for someone that I know is truly needed and appreciated.

In fact, I had an opportunity like this recently when a friend was in a bind and needed someone to pick her up. It was really a simple request but it was urgent and it was such an honor to get the call asking if I could help.

And a few days before that my husband and I had an opportunity to assist a woman who was going to be stranded for hours had we not stepped in. We ended up having several mutual friends in common and connected on a spiritual level as well.

I could have easily ignored what I was hearing as she talked on the phone near me. She didn’t realize I was there and would have never known if I hadn’t helped, but I would have known.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

‘We Are One in the Bond of Love’

God planted me there for just shy of two and a half years, but those nearly 850 days seemed like a lifetime — an experience I never wanted to end.

I remember grieving terribly the weeks leading up to and following my departure in December 1995. And tears flowed again recently when I had opportunity to return.

God called me to the missions field after college graduation in 1993. Uniquely enough, I was assigned to work with the Caribbean but stationed in Hollywood, Fla., at the Caribbean Media Centre, working with Caribbean Christian Publications.

Along with the countless opportunities assisting CCP editors and working in the field in Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad, St. Lucia and St. Vincent, I also discovered missionary families and a set of friends in Hollywood who would impact my life forever.

One particular missionary family welcomed me as one of its own and to this day is part of my daily existence. The friends came mainly from two groups — three other transplants like me serving on the missions field in the same area and an entire college and career department at Sheridan Hills Baptist Church.

Of the 12 to 15 core members of the 50-plus-member group, I have managed to keep up with most of them to some degree, especially the one I brought home with me and later married, Jason Rash. Some of us email, talk and even see each other frequently. Some of us rarely communicate, but Facebook — as well as our friend Michele 🙂 — has helped us stay updated on each other.

50th Anniversary Celebration of Sheridan Hills Baptist Church, Hollywood, Fla. (April 21, 2013)

50th Anniversary Celebration (April 21, 2013)

What I didn’t realize until I returned for the 50th anniversary celebration of Sheridan Hills (April 19–22) was just how deeply I miss this group of friends. And what I had almost forgotten was the depth and richness I experienced in my spiritual journey during those years in Hollywood.

Not everyone from our group could attend but for the ones of us who were there, being back together in our original environment felt right. And despite the fact it had been more than 17 years since we stood in those church halls together or stuffed ourselves at Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour together, we picked right back up.

To get a hug, to catch up, to share fun memories, to laugh, to cry, to just be together — it was good for the soul.

For a few hours, we were “home” and reminded that “We Are One in the Bond of Love” no matter how many miles span between us.