The Encouragement of a Friend

by Michelle Welch

“For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.”
Romans 1:11-12 (NIV)

20130904_01aRecently I had an opportunity to visit with a dear friend in North Carolina. Many years ago our daughters were on the same cheerleading squad. We became fast friends in spite of the fact that I was an outcast because of my worldly ways. It was her Christian heart and her steadfast desire to show me the true side of Christ that has kept us just a heartbeat apart. When other women wanted to judge, she just loved. When other women turned away from my obvious need to Godly direction, she gently guided me. Where other women saw sin, she saw the possibility of redemption.

20130904_02aDuring my visit we were able to attend church together  for the first time as sisters in Christ. Standing beside her as we raised our hand in adoration to our God brought tears to my eyes. It was a place I had longed to be and now I was finally able to understand just how important her gifts to me were. It was her gift of faith in me that had encouraged me along the rocky road I traveled. It was her gift of prayer for me that kept bringing me back to the narrow road. It was her gift of acceptance that allowed me to come to her for guidance when others turned away. In spite of the rags of sin I wore, she saw only the beauty that was locked inside.

My friend was the only Bible I had at the time. She was the only Christ I could see. She was not perfect. She never claimed to be. We saw each other at our worst and best moments. But in every circumstance she never stopped being a disciple of Christ and sharing her gifts with me. There was always love in her eyes, her attitude, and her words.

20130904_03Through my friend I learned that no matter what I see on the outside of a woman’s life, I have no idea what God is doing on the inside. I am called to love unconditionally, never judging or condemning. Luke 6:27-38 (NIV)

You may be sitting on hard metal bleachers or in cushioned office chairs or on plastic folding chairs. The only thing you may have in common is a twice a week practice session for hormonal teenage girls who spend two hours yelling and trying not to fall off the top of a human pyramid.  But right next to you is a woman who needs to see that you are living up to the commandment to “love each other”. (John 15:17) You never know whose life can be changed by your gift of friendship. Give generously.

Dearest Father God, thank You for friends who never give up on us. Thank You for those women that will kneel down in the muck and mire of our pit and help us out onto the dry land. Thank You for the love and acceptance of those who see past our mistakes to the heart that is meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Give us Your eyes to see past the outside into the spaces that are dark and need to be filled with Your light. Thank You for showing us Your mercy and grace. Let us show that same mercy and grace to every woman that we come in contact with. In the Name of Christ Jesus, Amen

©Michelle Welch, team member of Breath Of Life Women’s Ministries
Photography by Michelle Welch, all rights reserved, portions of this previously posted on
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

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