A sweet friendship refreshes the soul…… Proverbs 27 v 9
From our mid-teens, we were true friends. Young and carefree - doing what teenagers do, making our parents and Christian leaders’ despair. We planned our futures, through rose tinted glasses, full of optimism, full of hopes and dreams. Planning our weddings (even going wedding dress shopping before we’d met our future husbands.) We named and numbered the children each of us were going to have, and how, naturally, they’d grow up to be the best of friends. We got into trouble together, missing buses, getting stranded in London with no money and no idea - holidaying, singing, laughing, bickering and even crying sometimes. Crying because as we got older, life got harder. Sometimes the dreams we have as young people don’t come to pass, heartbreak, tragic losses causing immeasurable pain, infertility, illness and everyday pressures take their toll as life unveils its harsh reality. We become weary as we trudge through the mire while life continues to bombard us with it’s hard and heavy blows. But through it all she loved life and loved all the people who shared it with her - from beginning to end, passing on her infectious joy and enthusiasm. Sometimes she faced challenges head on, determined, and stoic. But, sometimes, it was just too much and she’d retreat, regroup and heal. But either way there was hope in God, faith in his promises and as she looked beyond herself to the God of all creation she knew and trusted Him with each situation.
His creation displays His glory all the more brilliantly; securing a more definite hope; experiencing deeper joy; knowing a purer love and enjoying a more treasured laughter.
I will look at the world a little differently now. The rose-tinted glasses were discarded long ago enabling me to see the world with a clearer vision. With eyes of a more seasoned faith comes a clearer revelation of the wonder of God and how His creation displays His glory all the more brilliantly; securing a more definite hope; experiencing deeper joy; knowing a purer love and enjoying a more treasured laughter. There are new friends, but there is a void that will never be filled. Friends are precious, and sometimes gone too soon; we hold them too lightly, neglecting to cherish them as we should. I am honoured that we were friends. It was an absolute privilege, to have laughed and cried with her was medicine to the soul emotionally and spiritually. She wasn’t perfect and she’d admit it - headstrong and impulsive sometimes - but that was part of who she was. She deeply loved and was more than willing to help those who needed it when she was able. She worked hard in the mundane, in her profession and more importantly for the Lord; especially with young people; so many young people were encouraged in their Christian walk because of her; so many felt loved and cared for because she opened her home. She supported missions; organizations and individuals and was passionate about the Jericho Road project helping and providing for women who are exploited through the horrors of working on the street.
Words were her thing, in all its forms, an avid reader, she also loved to write – journals, blogs and articles. She had an effortless ability with the spoken word - to teach, speak and tell a compelling story. She loved walking, she loved people but most of all she loved God. I know full well that I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for her. She encouraged me in my Bible reading, prayer and witness, challenged me when I wasn’t at church. She made a difference. She was taken too soon, but her short life was one that bore much fruit.
‘’The intimacy God calls us to enjoy with others is not based merely on common interests or shared experiences. It looks beyond gender and colour or any other easy division. It is a truly spiritual friendship in which we are bound together by God, in God, and for God. Because it is a spiritual friendship, it will exist beyond this earth and beyond the grave. It will endure forever.’’ Tim Challis