On Saturday I had the great gift of talking on the phone with my friend Josh Love. Josh is a friend from undergrad (I want to call him an "old friend," but being a year out does not an old friend make), he still in Abilene and I now in Atlanta. Josh and I were roommates in the semester leading up to my wedding, and he was one of my groomsmen. We share a deep and abiding love for all things NBA (Spurs vs. Trailblazers), Wolfmother, playing the guitar, Battlestar Galactica, good movies, good books, good theology, community, international missions (East Africa/Brazil), Tolkien, sushi, and Jesus. Needless to say, my life in Atlanta is missing something, and that something is Josh Love.
And so what a blessing it was to hear his voice Saturday. I am by nature hostile to talking on the phone (see: family and friends, missed calls thereof), so it takes a lot for me to endorse it. However, in reconnecting and updating each other, I realized just what a treasure I have in Josh; more than an NBA pal, more than a Battlestar geek, more than an endless repository of good conversation over good food with good people -- Josh is a spiritual friend. Or, as I should say, Josh is my spiritual friend.
A spiritual friend is someone who, without dogma or agenda or falsity, reorients us back to the one true Source of all things. A spiritual friend listens intently, and somehow in that silence speaks a word of consolation. A spiritual friend, by his or her language alone, gives us back the self we forgot we were. A spiritual friend steps right through all of our self-constructed myths and sins and excuses and reminds us we are loved, and bought, and beholden to a world and a people and a Spirit calling us to service. A spiritual friend is for us and with us and behind us, utterly faithful in any and all prodigality. A spiritual friend's prayers are taken for granted, because they can be. A spiritual friend is Christ: fleshly and wounded, sibling and burden-bearer.
Josh Love is my spiritual friend, and for that I am thankful. Within moments of talking to him I realize how self-centered, how wholly compromised I am. He asks me what God is doing here in Atlanta, in my life and in Katelin's, in our community and in Candler. Do I know? Do I care? Have I thought to look? No; if I am with God I am asking him, reminding him, what he is decidedly not doing for me. I hadn't thought ... to ask for eyes to see what he is doing around me, how I might be a servant, how I might both see the crucified and risen Christ around me and be that same Christ to others.
But Josh Love is my spiritual friend, and since Saturday, I have been asking the right questions. God is at work; God is moving; God is alive. I had forgotten this: but for now, I remember.
Thank God for the living Christ. Thank God for the Josh Loves in this life.
But I'm repeating myself: Thank God for spiritual friends.