Dog owners know the month of March is mud season. This time of year our four-legged friends tread out into increasingly gooey yards. A week ago I saw a picture of my cousin’s dog, Sadie, sitting patiently on the back porch, in the rain, while her owners wiped off her paws with a towel. Sadie had such a peaceful look upon her face. I am jealous. Our own 80-pound chocolate Labrador, Sophie, possess no such patience.
Sophie is thrilled to go outside, bursting out the back door into our yard. She loves to trot around exploring the corners, nooks and crannies. She relishes a drink from the mud puddles, and I am certain that I have seen that dog look me in the eye and intentionally squish her toes into the mud.
When she comes inside, I try, with limited success, to clean the dog’s feet with a wash rag. Sophie usually complies the first time or two, but by the third reentry, Sophie decides tug of war is better than having her paws washed.
Instead of cleaning toes, I must face a herculean wrestling match. I wrap my arm around our dog’s barrel chest trying to keep hold of her. Each time I lose my grip on her foot, that dog takes another step deeper into the house and another muddy paw print is left on the floor.
Eventually, the dog ends up wrestled to the floor kicking her muddy paws in my face, and I end up sprawled on the floor desperately pleading with the beast to just let me wash her feet before she climbs onto the couch.
Worn out, we sit on the floor nose to nose, make up, and restoring our friendship. This, of course, is when the dog asks to go outside into the mud again.
Man’s best friend? Sometimes I wonder.
Pet owners know all too well the friendship we share with our animal companions. If only all of our friendships could be as easy and forgiving. The good news is that friendship is something God designed and is available to each one of us.
In John 15:15, we encounter Jesus’ words to his disciples, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
A disciple, a follower of Jesus, is his friend. Not only can we have friendship with Jesus, we are told that we can have friendship with others, but truly healthy friendship must have biblical design.
Biblical friendship requires love that is willing to make sacrifices for others to bring out the best in them. Biblical friendship requires openness. Jesus tells his disciples that he made known to them all that he had heard from his heavenly Father. Our digital world tempts us to curate a picture of ourselves, but this is no substitute for true openness.
Biblical friendship possesses a closeness. Proverbs 18:24 tells us, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” This is a very radical statement. In a time when family meant everything, the Bible says there is a friend closer than family. We see this in the New Testament as Christians join the family of God, and call each other brother and sister in Christ. It’s not perfect, in fact these friendships are messy, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can build precious biblical friendships.
Are you helping your friends to be their best? Are they helping you? Are you willing to be open with them or let them in close like family? What is stopping you? Will you let Jesus help you build these kinds of friendships?
As for me, there is a Labrador waiting to come back inside…
Rev. Josh Walker is the pastor of Valleyview Evangelical Friends Church located at 868 W. William St. in Delaware.