Jo and Don White
Before we were married, my wife Jo and I were next-door neighbors. We were dating different people, and we would come home after a date, sit on our little porch and talk about our dates and everything else. After a while, I realized that she had become my best friend.
Sometime later, we were sitting in her living room one night, and I made a joke about her height. I was 6 foot tall, and she was 5 foot 2. Suddenly she jumped to her feet, making karate chops with her right hand into her left hand and proclaiming, “That’s it. You’re dead meat. I’ve had enough of these short jokes.” All the while she said this, she was whacking her left hand with these karate chops.
I jumped to my feet and got on the opposite side of a large round coffee table. When she would go to the left to come after me, I would go to the left and keep the large coffee table between us. She would suddenly change course and dart quickly to the right, and I would do the same, keeping her from getting close. We were both laughing, jumping back and forth with her whacking her hand and announcing my imminent death. Unexpectedly, I suddenly realized that I loved her. I didn’t tell her what I was thinking that night, but we were married a year and a half later. That was over 55 years ago, and not only is she my love, but she is still my best friend.
I don’t know if it’s normal, but I had a similar progression in my relationship with the Lord. He seems to have gone out of his way to treat me as if I am special. He never threatened to kill me with karate chops like my wife, but contrary to that, the Lord saved my life so many times that I lost track of the number. He protected me even when I didn’t know I was in danger. He got them to let me go when I got caught smuggling in Russia during the Cold War. When I was being lured back to Russia, he gave a friend, who knew nothing about what was going on, a dream to tell me I was being tricked and not to go. He healed me many times and gave me unexpected provisions when needed. All of these things made him feel like a friend, but it was in my darkest times that I realized that I loved him.
He could have been an obey-or-burn God like I was taught as a child, and he would have still been God. But he isn’t like that. The people who taught me that only knew the God of books and traditions. They didn’t know him in current reality to discover his real character. He loves even the unlovable, even beyond providing salvation through his son. He very patiently waits for us to change as he beckons us along. The Lord always treated me as if I had never done anything wrong, although I had. It was as if he had never judged me in my entire life. Although I know that judgment will come to us all one day, I trust him to take care of me. God has never turned his back on me or given up on me. He has given my life value that I never deserved. What he has done for me made him my friend, but I love his character. God is my love and my friend.
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