There is a shelf which houses one of my most precious collections. All of the objects on the shelf are fragile, but some are more durable than others. They come in many shapes and sizes. Many have even been known to grow in both size and resilience. Each of these objects is different. None of them are just exactly alike.
If one were to look at my collection, one would notice something interesting. While most collections tend to have the same degree of cleanliness, some of the objects in this collection are dusty. They have been disused for one reason or another. This may change from time to time as one very dusty piece might have been taken down and cleansed of the dust of time. Others may grow more dusty and tarnished. Still others may never appear dusty at all, but beautifully lustrous and polished because of much loving care.
While this may mark a difference between my collection and many others, there is one commonality between them. Many pieces in my collection are chipped or show signs of having been patched and mended. Some pieces may show signs of being in the process of mending, like ceramics being slowly baked in a kiln. Also like ceramics, many of the pieces that have been repaired are stronger for having been tried in the fire. Others grow more fragile, perhaps because of a flaw in the process or method of repair.
Now, by this time, many may have guessed just what collection I am discussing. However, in the interest of complicity I must explain myself plainly. The shelf I spoke of is a spot in my heart. The collection of beautiful pieces stored upon it are friendships. Some friendships are fragile and even small because of newness or even the lack of time available to develop them. Others have grown in size and been made strong because time has been taken to develop and strengthen them. Many friendships grow dusty from disuse, because life gets in the way and/or friends lose touch with one another. However, some friends make contact again and the dust is polished away. Friendships can be kept lustrous and shiny with care and time. They can be chipped and marred over the years through misunderstandings, anger, bitterness, many reasons. However, through the quenching of pride and weathering of storms, friendships can be repaired. Sometimes this is done in ways that weaken the friendship, such as retention of bitterness that causes glitches in the repair process. Others are made stronger because friends have grown in their understanding of one another. The bond is made more concrete. However, there is one thing in common between all of these friendships. It is the fact that each is precious in its own way. Each influences the lives of those involved in both small and large ways. There is only one that is more precious than all of the others combined. It is friendship with Jesus Christ. No bond is stronger than that of redemption purchased on a cross. Admittedly, I myself forget to notice and pay as much attention to the friendship. Though it is the most precious, it is the one that is perhaps most taken foregranted.
So, next time you have a moment to sit and think, look inward at the shelf in your heart. Examine the collection of friendships stored there. Do some need dusting? Of course there are those that cannot be dusted because there is no way to restore contact with a friend, but there are those that can be polished and given new life. Are there those that might need a little repair? Perhaps there are little chips that could be filled in before they turn into big ones. In the midst of this examination, do not forget to take a look at that most precious friendship: the one between you and the Lord. It may be the most dusty, shrunken, and chipped of them all, but it is perhaps the most easily repaired. It may take a little time. It will take the opening of Your Bible after years of neglect. At the least it will take a bit of blood and perhaps a few tears. But with care, it will outshine and outlast them all.