Long Read: Bare knuckled friends
Give me the desperate ones.
Today, I thought of my most desperate prayers. They came in the times when I had nowhere else to go. Desperate, I had to go to the Father, on the lamb so to speak with no where else to turn. It is these times, scared and fragile, we experience the most sacred and faith filled prayers.
I could feel one of those moments this morning. I didn’t want to face today. Unemployed for the first time in twelve years. Big choices ahead. With this back drop, I had an epiphany. When I need prayer, real prayer, I must seek out the friends in my life who are also desperate. So I reached out to a buddy who knows me well. We haven’t spoken much in the last twenty years. When he left college, I stayed close to school as he moved close to his home. We both married wonderful brides. And now, coming upon his 19th year of marriage, he’s finding himself doing everything possible to save it. I recollected my toughest moments and thought, this guy, a leader in every sense, is wearing holes in his knees in his prayer closet.
It got me thinking of the kind of men I want around me in life. Most of us do not contemplate our friendships; whether they are the kind of men who are headed where we are going. We are too busy being swallowed by busy-ness. But it is a worthy analysis, for our friends (or lack there of) impact so much. Those we are close to determine in so many ways the richness of the life we live. Consider Jesus who made his choice of friends a priority, even strategic. Jesus never wrote one single sentence about himself. All we know of him comes from his closest friends.
If I were in a fight for my life, one to the death, what kind of men would I choose to join me? Would I build a bible thumping accountability group or would I be better served by a gang of desperates? Would I want the mani-pedi or bare skinned knuckles?
Since we are human and void of superhero strength, give me the desperate ones.
I need friends who have lost it all therefore have nothing to lose. Stripped down, humble, unafraid of their own weaknesses while knowing their strengths. It is these men who bite the steal of the blade. These men have true grit. Give me the battered ones. No offense, I want to leave the oxford shirts and mortgages behind. Give me men of reckless abandon who can handle themselves in a fight for the most important things. These men think differently. They aren’t captivated by the idols of the day. The pain of the day and the weather of their lives have knocked the soft edges off. Give me the men who have distilled their desires to a narrow view.
Give me desperate friends. Give me men, battered, bruised and with more than a little attitude. Like David, give me three of thirty. David’s men weren’t born leaders or upstanding citizens. They were a rag tag, motley crew rejected by the good guys.
How about Josheb-Basshebeth? 2nd Samuel says He raised his spear against 800 men and killed them all in one sitting. I bet he was a bare knuckled bruiser.
Eleazar, son of Dodai. He was with David when they taunted the Philistines. Abandoned on the battlefield by more thoughtful warriors, Eleazar “stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword”. Eleazar’s troops returned, but only to plunder the dead.
And Shammah, who being surrounded, took his stand in the middle of a field, as his comrades fled, striking down his enemies.
David made some fairly straightforward friendship choices. He wanted men who, fully committed, left safety behind. One can’t make this stuff up. 2nd Samuel 23 sounds more like an epic battle written by Tolkein than a Sunday school lesson.
Choosing your friends carefully with the right character is a leadership choice. As men who lead, we must consider this need for deep friendship as a bed rock desire placed by God. He has purposes for us to accomplish. He has exploits in mind for us. We won’t be able to accomplish these alone or with the wrong guys at our sides. I am thinking I don’t need any more Sauls in my life. Good looking, do nothings who are afraid of being found out. I need men acquainted with their weaknesses, open with them and falling at the feet of Jesus asking me along for the ride.
Here are a few things us men rarely achieve without close friends:
- Fostering an intimate and holy relationship with our God.
- Staying married to one woman our whole life.
- Having children who like being around us when we are old.
- Showing the outside man and the inside man as the same man.
- Operating in financial integrity.
My friend from college will make it through with his marriage. I am convinced. Primarily because he will choose the right set of men around him to see him through. The cool part is when I need a man to pray, I am choosing him. He has nothing more to loose and will go to the Father with reckless abandon. I hope I can always remember my desperate times and go to the Father just the same. Perhaps I should ask one of my three to remind me.