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The Best Kind of Friend

As the Thanksgiving season nears, I’m increasingly grateful for my friends. My life is rich with friendships old and new, a beautiful mark of God’s grace to me.  I have friends who have absorbed embarrassment on my behalf so I wouldn’t lose face in front of the guy for whom I was head-over-heels in college (and later married), who spent an inordinate amount of time devising ridiculous pranks with me, who covered each one of the hives all over my body with baking soda when I had a horrible allergic reaction and then vacuumed up the debris.  I have friends who cheer me on, who ask how I’m really doing, who love Tami Taylor as much as I do, who drop off an onion and a tablespoon of Italian seasoning to mercifully keep me from going to the grocery store again.  I have friends whose kids are growing up alongside mine and understand the temporary insanity caused by motherhood.  I have friends who have stood the test of time and distance.  But most poignantly, I have friends who are “John the Baptist” to me.

John the Baptist, a cousin and contemporary of Jesus, had a unique ministry among first century Jews.  God sent him to prepare the way of the Lord.  In other words, he prepared the people to receive their Messiah.  When Jewish leaders questioned his identity he emphatically declared, “I am not the Christ,” and identified himself as the one crying out from the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord.” When Jesus walked by John and his followers, John the Baptist announced, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”  His entire life pointed past himself to the One who was worthy of all worship and adoration.

My dearest friends are wonderful for so many reasons, but most importantly, they play a “John the Baptist” role in my life.  I have friends who are aware that Jesus is the only perfect friend.  Therefore, there’s no expectation that they can meet all my relational needs.  These women aren’t looking to draw attention to themselves and their own sufficiency, but consistently through word and deed cast my gaze on Jesus.  They invite me to look at his holiness, his beauty, his wisdom, his heart of perfect love for me.

I’ve thought for some time that there are basically two types of people in the world:  Those who walk into a room and declare either explicitly or implicitly, “Here I AM!” or those who walk into a room and by their body language, posture, and words declare, “There YOU are!” (which is a blog post for another day).  But there’s a third category and one I long to embody as my friends have done for me.  I want to be a woman whose life and words in friendship clearly point past myself and declare, “There HE is!”  May we be John the Baptist to our friends: clear that we are not their Savior, clear that we are not the perfect friend, and clear that we know One who is everything their hearts desire.  In joy or in pain, may we help one another discern Christ, the all-sufficient One.

Ashlee Johnson

Ashlee is the wife of a pastor, mom of two busy little ones, and a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Seminary. She is passionate about communicating the truths of Scripture to women and magnifying Jesus as the All-Satisfying Treasure and Almighty Redeemer. She has lived in North Carolina for most of her life and loves making the most of the sidewalks and parks in her 1940s neighborhood. Ashlee enjoys healthy eating and exercising, but finds it nearly impossible to resist homemade cookies!

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