Healing the Lonely in You and Me (Guest Post from Ann Voskamp)
Every now and again God sends you a friend to remind you how generous and kind he is. Two Christmases ago, for us that person was Ann Voskamp. Ann, her husband Darryl, and seven children (yes, seven…not a type-o) are humble servants of Jesus and generous conduits of his kindness, mostly from their lovely farm in Canada. Ann is known by many as an author of books (especially check out her latest–The Broken Way), a speaker, and a prolific blogger. A student of Scripture, culture, and the human heart, Ann etches out grace words for those who are weary of rat races and of striving and of exhaustion. Hers is also a prophetic voice, speaking a convicted yet also bridge-building words into some of the most contested issues of our time, whether refugees or politics or the sanctity of all life or racial justice or poverty or the simple call to love our neighbor as Jesus has loved us. As you will see below in her generous foreword for my new book, Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation and Fear, which released this Tuesday, October 4, Ann’s voice is a sorely needed echo of Jesus who is, now and forever, our Friend.
When we moved up here to this neck of the woods and settled in on our farm, there was an old farmer who lived to the west of us and his older brother who lived to the east, and this is what we were told.
The old farmer worried that his older brother felt the ache of aloneness when he woke up in his empty house down by Johnson’s Corner, so the farmer made sure one his kids always dropped off a bucket of milk every night, left it there by his brother’s front door. Said his herd of cows produced enough milk so he wanted his brother to swallow down and taste it, that this was a place flowing with the milk and honey of kindness and none of us are ever alone.
Turned out though, that the older brother was mighty concerned that the farmer didn’t have enough to offer around the table for his posse of kids, so the older brother made a habit to head up after nightfall and leave a couple dozen eggs at the old farmer’s door, washed eggs of shades of white and paling green and earthy brown. Said his flock of hens produced enough eggs so he wanted his brother to know that all needs are tucked underneath an attentive wing of provision and none of us are ever alone.
Then one night in early spring, so the story goes, right after the song of the frogs had returned to the marsh at the back of Mr. Knapp’s farm, and the whole dark world was being serenaded by a rising, croaking glory, it happened that the old farmer himself headed east with a bucket of milk and the older brother was heading west with a crate of eggs and somewhere south of that bridge that crosses the Maitland River, the two brothers ran right into each other. Came face to face with each other in the shadows. Recognized the other simply by how similar the other’s face looked to his own.
In the bluing light, the two sat down on the warm earth and listened to the symphony of frog song and the slow opening of each other’s lives and “it is the best to be with those in time, that we hope to be with in eternity.” (Thomas Fuller)
It is best to befriend those now—who we hope to be His friend for all eternity.
It is best to consider anyone a friend who drives us closer to God.
The story goes that when the sun creeped up over the horizon, it found the two brothers face to face there where McNaught Line meets Creamery Road, found them sitting at the crossroads.
The truest Story never stops telling us:
Wherever our roads cross with others’ roads, we can experience the power of the Cross.
Wherever our roads cross with others, the Cross can be lifted high and lift us both up and into Him.
Wherever our roads cross, the Cross can make even us friends.
I don’t know if there is anyone better qualified to write this book than Scott Sauls because I don’t a man who better incarnates the crucified Christ to everyone he meets. Because Scott is the very rare man who befriends everyone he meets because he walks with Christ as his friend, carries Christ’s cross as his friend, extends Christ’s grace and truth as the relief of friendship. Because Scott Sauls lives as a man who knows that when his path crosses anyone’s, the presence of the Cross can change everything.
When my husband and I have questions that are wrestling us down, Scott is the friend we turn to. When we need a prayer warrior in the middle of the night, Scott is the friend we turn to. When we need a fellow pilgrim’s hand, a redeemed saint’s mind and a pastor’s heart, Scott is the friend we turn to. In the midst of family crisis, during seasons desperately seeking clarity, on uphill roads through long hard nights, Scott has faithfully, time and time again, befriended our family with deeply insightful wisdom, glasses-of-cold-water refreshment and encouragement, and an extraordinarily humble and vulnerable heart that beats like Jesus, the One who calls even us friend.
Scott can write this book direly needed in these times because he has been a man, a father, a thought-leader, a pastor, a cultural voice, a friend, direly needed for these times.
The tone of our world wounds us in a thousand ways.
The discourse of our world attempts to continuously throw us off course.
Our exchanges with one another desperately need to change—because we all are exhausted with the ache of aloneness.
And the electrifying book Scott is offering us at this crossroads in time has the uncommon power to completely change the dial and frequency of our personal exchanges with culture and our world—by changing the frequency of how we communicate like Christ.
In an age of isolation, judgment and fear, these enlightening, fresh words offer the profound hope of ushering in more of a Kingdom age—an age of belonging by grace, through self-giving love, in the power of Christ.
That old farmer and his older brother, they could have missed each other in the middle of their dark nights. They could have missed meeting each other’s aloneness, they could have missed meeting and caring for each other’s unspoken brokenness, they could have missed letting their meeting be a holy place of rising up in the power of the Cross.
Do not miss the truly life-changing power of the words in your hands, that echo His Word. Whosoever paths you cross—is meant to transformed by the power of Cross.
So turn these rare pages with C.S. Lewis right there at your ear: “Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others.”
Who knows who you may meet along your own shadowed roads, whose face may remind you of yours and His, who you may turn in your aloneness, and smile the unexpected relief of—“Friend.”
FOR FURTHER READING:
You can find out more about Ann’s work, including The Broken Way, by clicking here.
You can learn about Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation and Fear by clicking here.
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Books: Jesus Outside the Lines and Befriend
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