This week will see significant changes in many families. Children will start new grades in school, university students will leave home and settle into dorms, and graduates will look hard for jobs that may take them to new places. Parents, who know full well the difficulties of the world, long for the days when their children were safe at home. But would that be the best for them now?
When Jacob left home, he learned that the world was not there to serve him. His selfish ways brought him much hardship. He couldn’t even have his way with his choice in a wife. He learned quickly to become disciplined, skilled, and to trust in God, not just himself or his family connections. Gen.27-33.
Joseph was torn from his family as a teenager and thrust into the cruel world of slavery in a foreign country. What hurt most was that his own brothers were at fault. But despite difficult employers, hard labour, and time in jail, he learned to use his wits and trust God’s overall plan. Would he have become the trusted second-in-command over all of Egypt if he had remained at home? Gen.37-41.
David showed great courage as a young man, but only reached his stride when king Saul drafted him into the army. There he made new friends (Jonathan), fought and won personal battles, learned to survive, and eventually became a powerful leader, eventually replacing Saul. His parents trained him, but his independence matured him.
I suspect that even Jesus gained great confidence at 12 years old from his experience with the Jewish teachers in the temple, alone (Luke 2:45-49). His famous statement to his fretting parents teaches us all: “Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Good homes guide young people as they find their footing for their upcoming independent lives. But eventually we must let our children grow to adults and fly from the nest. Having done your work, they will thrive. Their faith will guide them.
– Tim Johnson
One of the greatest friendships we find in the Bible was that of David and Jonathan. From them we can learn what makes friendships work well. Both of them were soldiers and they appreciated weapons and strategy. In 1 Sam.18:4, Jonathan gave his sword and bow to David as a gift; very personal items. It’s the things people have in common that bring them together. It can be something as engaging as soldiers in the army, or something as simple as an interest in gardening.
These two men quickly found themselves in a tricky situation: Jonathan’s father, king Saul, was jealous of David and wanted to execute him. Friendship was tested by the complications that followed. Jonathan knew David was innocent of any deceit, so he stood by him in loyalty. Good friends do that for each other when difficulties strike. Loyalty should never waver between good friends. However, in real life we often suffer the pain of losing a good friend; loyalty can vanish sometimes. But the world is full of interesting people open to friendship and we may simply need to open up to them, putting the pain of prior friendships on the back burner. Never forget a friend even if they have turned their back on you. If you’re lucky, they may return someday.
If you read the last few chapters of 1 Samuel, you’ll find that Jonathan sacrificed for his friend David, who had a death sentence on his head. They sometimes met secretly to check on each other, challenge each other, and figure out what to do next. Jonathan would have suffered severely if his father found out. Strong friendships don’t mind sacrificing for each other. If you haven’t had a friend like that, maybe you should find ways to sacrifice for others. As someone once said, to have a friend you’ve got to be a friend.
Of all the things that help friendships flourish, there needs to be a strong common-denominator of conviction. Both David and Jonathan loved God and wanted to serve Him with all their hearts. This one over-riding quality gave these men the best foundation to stand on. It furnished them both with humility, common-sense, direction, and courage. Great friendships are built on faith in God and appreciation for each other.
There’s a tragic end to the story of David and Jonathan: the latter died in battle (1 Sam.31). David mourned for him and wrote his thoughts down in a piece called “The Song of the bow” (2 Sam.1). When David became king he honored his friend Jonathan by caring for the man’s handicapped son for the rest of his life (2 Sam.9). Real friendships are never forgotten.
– Tim Johnson
In our hectic world solitude is missing. As we age we have more time to be alone, and for some people solitude becomes loneliness. But there is a need to practice a measure of it.
When Moses escaped Egypt, he spent four decades in the wilderness with few people nearby. It gave him time to think about his life, to learn humility and trust in God, not just himself. When he saw the burning bush, he was ready to be a leader. (Ex.3).
When Saul obeyed the gospel in Damascus, his whole life changed. He needed some time alone, so he went away for a while in Arabia before proceeding with his new role as an apostle. (Gal.1:17-18). Sometimes we need space to make important changes in our thinking. Continue reading