We had not been living in Abu Dhabi long, when I met Geetha. Assigned to the same Bible Study small group, we sat down at a folding table across from each other. I glanced up at her warm brown eyes. We were instant friends, despite many differences. Geetha grew up in India; I grew up in the United States. After I invited Geetha for lunch at our home, she confided to me that she gets nervous eating with utensils. Instead she daintily picks up her food with the tips of her fingers. She says it tastes better that way. With Geetha as my tutor, I tried eating biryani with my fingers, but was too worried about making a mess to tell if it had any influence on taste.
So, how did we become instant friends? I am not entirely sure. We seem to carry ourselves similarly in the world. People sometimes mistook one of us for the other. We have both lived in multiple countries; we are both teachers; we both love the Word of God; we both practice Christian disciplines. But we didn’t know any of that at first glance. I think our friendship was a gift from God in a season when I expected to be lonely.
In Abu Dhabi, we made memories together:
- We spent a Quiet Day at another friend’s home.
- Geetha and her husband, Dev, joined Brad and I in celebrating our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.
- Brad took Geetha on her first ever experience of dune-bashing.
Throughout our friendship, Geetha has given me words, God’s words, as gifts. The first was, “All of your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children’s peace.” Although Geetha has daughters and I have sons, we both pray this verse for our children.
For my last five birthdays, Geetha has carefully selected encouraging word-gifts for me. 2018’s verse: “The LORD will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Although we now live on opposite sides of the world, Geetha, with the Holy Spirit’s insight, chose words, perfect for this season:
- Living in a van means we often need guidance about where to stay, and when to go; we search for balance between time with others and time alone.
- We are in the process of moving to California, where there is a long-term drought.
- My physical frame could use a little strengthening.
- When I am weary, I tend to be irritable, rather than encouraging. I long to be more like a refreshing spring.
Application: Dear friend, some friendships begin at first glance, others take time to develop. I think we need both kinds. Thank God for the precious gift of friendships sustained by encouraging words.
How might you offer the gift of encouraging words to a friend today?
If Paul Needed Friends, So Do We by Tony Merida
The Power of a Praying® Woman by Stormie Omartian