September 30, 2011 by Jay Helms
How would you handle it if a friend told you, “Your toes are so huge, when I look at your feet, it’s like looking at a sandal full of bratwursts.”…?
I made a new friend this past week…Cleve. He is the kind who can tell me my toes are huge…the kind that will allow me to tell him if his toes look like bratwursts in a sandal. Earlier than we expected, we each challenged one another about something we saw in one another’s life. After I challenged him and we talked, he did an incredible thing…he said, “This is how all great relationships are forged.”
Sadly, I have known way too many relationships that have been halted too early because it is the rare person who understands the necessity of both challenging one another and encouraging/understanding one another. The best of the best relationships in my life operate this way, involving both “High Challenge” and “High Invitation”.
I’ve seen too many people try out for American Idol who are so “oh-please-Lord-save-them-now” awful that it is terrifying. And it seems that every one of these terrible singers has “friends” back home who have told them they are better singers than Beyonce and Aretha. If I got embarrassed on national TV like that, I would officially mark those people off my list of true friends.
We THRIVE in relationships that involve challenge as well as comfort/time/access/encouragement. My high school coach Roy Cooper was like that with me, and I thrived in that player-coach relationship. This is exactly what it is like to walk with Jesus. Both can be seen in His words, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me (challenge), for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (access/encouragement/understanding).” – Matthew 11:29
At times he challenges me (directly or through friends like Cleve) and it stops me in my tracks and I have to take an honest look at things I do not like seeing in myself…and through the process of being loved in the middle of that, I am no longer the same. At other times, walking with Jesus is a journey of laughter or pure joy. I think living this way is Life Unleashed, the best life there is in all the world.