I watched her raise her arms as her beautiful alto voice reverberated across the sanctuary, and tears filled my eyes. The Spirit of the Lord was on the move no doubt, and that in and of itself always makes me cry. Some people laugh, some people dance, some people kneel, I typically cry.
But my eyes were also overflowing because this day marked such a victory.
As the lyrics “let go my soul and trust in him, the waves and wind still know his name” rolled off the stage, through the mic, and into the hearts of the hearers, I rejoiced inside because I knew my dear friend sang this from a place of legitimate, hard-fought, battle-weary victory.
I met Cindi 3 years ago when we joined a bible study together. We carpooled for the thirty minute drive, and when I picked her up she darted from her front porch. I remember her practically dancing her way to my car. I would find out later that she has quite the flare for the dramatic, with a background in theater and musicals. We built a deep friendship in record time. Daily phone calls, getting to know the ins and outs of each others’ lives, quickly led to a kinship that is a rare treasure.
Within just a few weeks of getting to know my new friend, she walked a little more slowly out to my car one evening as I picked her up for bible study. She said her knees hurt and she had “pockets of fluid” in her joints. What we thought would come and go quickly because we are completely healthy and vibrant 30-somethings, spiraled into a plethora of afflictions that would send my dear friend into her recliner for nearly three years.
At one point, she could not walk and needed more ice packs for her joints. She had also developed some sort of skin affliction on her face that caused a streaking of red skin to shoot down from the corners of her mouth looking like (in her words) “fangs”. She had been seeing every kind of doctor and specialists imaginable, and no one had any answers. The day she had the red-streaked fangs on her face, I stopped by her house with some aloe for her painful skin, and some new wraparound ice-packs for her aching joints. She was totally devastated that day, as she was powerless to keep her body from going completely off the rails. She often reminds me that on that day, when I stopped by with medical care items, I embraced her with her head held to my chest because she couldn’t stand up for a full hug.
Through the next two and a half years there were many doctors, but no breakthrough answers or cures. Despite discouragement she inched her way toward better health through a combination of diet changes, essential oils, chiropractic care and loads of prayer. Our friendship grew as I tried to encourage her (albeit sometimes poorly), and stand beside her and remind her that God is still in this; He is still good.
Now on the backside of all of that hardship, I get to see her thrive as she leads worship and glorifies our good Father with her gifts that were refined in the fire.
One day after she had led worship she called me and said “Kristi, I just want to thank you for being such a good friend”. I was confused as to why she would call with that out of the blue. She explained that she was so thankful that I had been a friend to her while she was in the pit of her life, but also stood beside her now, cheering her on as she experienced a little bit of the mountaintop.
God has given us a friendship that flourishes both in the depths and in the heights; competition is nowhere to be found, and envy is not an issue for us. I’m so grateful to Him for cultivating this kinship in both of our hearts where we share a love that’s been ordained by Him for our joy and His glory.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for times of adversity. Proverbs 17:17 NIV