First of all, I’m not even sure that the word defriended is even a proper word, but according to the urban dictionary it means to remove someone from your social media account as a friend. In almost every instance, this is passive-aggressive move to let someone know you no longer want to be their friend without actually telling them. In almost every case, this act is rather dramatic, and usually causes more drama. Of course, there are times when it is the appropriate thing to do, such as when someone is stalking you, or otherwise trying to harm your reputation. I will admit that I have “defriended” people and I am probably better off for doing it. After all, some folks are intentionally hurtful but more often than not, they simply get on your nerves.

As most of you know, do participate in social media. Why? Well, because I want to have friends, and in order to do that you must show yourself friendly. There are other reasons, most importantly because it allows me to get information out to a large audience in a relatively quick time…and it saves our work thousands of dollars a year.

Yet, there is something that sounds really cold when it is put this way. Yes, there will be friends along the way who no longer desire to be your friend, and there may be reasons for it. In a lot of cases it is because of offense in some way, but more often than not, someone moves away and contact becomes less frequent, until you lose touch altogether. Again, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up, in fact only three who were really close. One of those friends has died and I don’t have any idea where they are now. When I joined the United States Army I had friends, but again, not a lot of them. Usually, what I thought was a really close friendship just ended when a change of duty stations took place, then, there were those who were killed leaving only the memories of our short time together.

What I find really interesting is how I can have contact with someone after thirty years and we can pick up as if we never lost contact. Mostly, I think this is because of shared experiences that deeply affected us physically and emotionally. A certain bond that existed between us was revived. When I travel through airports and see a soldier with the 101st Airborne Division patch, there is a certain feeling of shared experience, although most of these troopers wasn’t even born when I served….so, I introduce myself, shake their hand and thank them for their service to our nation. Again, we have something in common. Yet, there are those very few who I have shared blood, sweat and tears with that a bond of brotherhood exists.

In these past thirty years of ministry I have literally met or ministered to hundreds, if not thousands people. Some stand out, some don’t, but somewhere along that way our paths crossed, even if for a few moments of time, we traveled the pathway of life together. I have lost some friends along the way because of my own fault…my own insensitivity or failure to see the need of that moment in time, and to be totally honest because they lost my trust…a value that I deeply cling to.

Yet, there are some friends lost that cause me deep sorrow and anguish. These are the ones you think about over and over in your mind, wondering how you could have done things differently. What you could have said or done that would have caused a different outcome. These are the ones that cause sleepless nights, that build defensive walls in other relationships and cause us to live a lesser life than God intends for us. After all, didn’t John 10:10 tell us that Jesus came to “give us abundant life?” Its these relationships that cause you to pull people to you with one hand while pushing them away with the other, leaving them confused and never able to really get close to you.

On December 6, 1978 something happened that totally changed my life. That was the night I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. It was then that I began this journey which has been a winding road of experience, using all of these experiences to mold me into who I am today. Oh, my friends, I have often stumbled but have never been completley cast down. I have missed the mark, only to be given another opportunity. I have gone through times when I didn’t want to go to church, I didn’t want to read my Bible and I didn’t want to pray. In essence, doing the things that would cause me to be defriended by the people on this pathway of life. During these years I have experienced forgiveness that was totally undeserved, or far that matter, expected.

It was the Lord, Jesus Christ who has never left me…He has never defriended me because of my stupid mistakes…He has never defriended me because of my bad attitude, idleness or even sin. For years I have held onto the promise written in Hebrews 13:5 that “he will never leave me or forsake me.”

I often think about the story of a young man in Luke 15 who decided to go away from his father and journey to a place far away from the safety and security and loving environment. I think about how low he found himself in the hog pen when he came to his senses. He realized that even the hired hands at his father’s house had it better than where he found himself. Starving and along, defriended by everyone around him.

What did he do?

Luke said he “came to himself.” What a compliment from God! He said that when we are away from the father, we are not really at our best. Yet, the father longs for his son, and when he sees his son return, he doesn’t defriend him…he doesn’t even judge him harshly. As the son falls on his father’s shoulders, his father rejoices and embraces him…no, he doesn’t defriend him…and He doesn’t defriend you either.

May the strength of His loving arms embrace you as you are reminded just how much He loves you.