“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:11 NIV)
Why is it that here in North America a gift of flowers is reserved for Mothers Day, romantic occasions, or perhaps a sick female friend? We rarely give flowers to a man, except at his funeral – unless he’s a horticulturist by trade. In England and Europe flowers are given for any occasion or no occasion at all, just a simple act of friendship.
This spring, my daughter took me to the annual Tulip Festival in Ottawa, Ontario. At the end of WWII, the Netherlands presented Canada with a thank you gift of tulip bulbs. More bulbs have followed, and this year, Canada’s 150th anniversary, there were more than a million tulips on display in our nation’s capital city.
It was a beautiful sunny day when we visited. The many beds of tulips, in every colour imaginable, were gorgeous. Bright colours are so welcome to us in the north, after a long, cold, monochrome winter. Waves of different shades of red, pink, yellow, orange, purple, white, and even black flowers delighted all ages. Hundreds of visitors snapped selfies and posed for pictures against a background of flowers swaying gently in the breeze. As I wandered about the flower beds, I thought that God was surely smiling happily when he created flowers for us!
Large message boards explained that the tulips symbolize the friendship between Canada and the Netherlands. I found it touching that the Dutch have never forgotten their gratitude to Canadians in more than seventy years. Spring bulbs that multiply and reappear year after year are indeed “the gift that keeps on giving”, yet still the Dutch royal family sends more each year.
The Bible has a lot to say about friendship. King David and Jonathan swore friendship with each other in the name of the Lord (1 Samuel 20:42). Job spent a great deal of time listening to his friends’ advice. God spoke to Moses face to face as one speaks to a friend (Exodus 33:11), and Abraham, too, was called God’s friend (James 2:23).
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 NIV)
That friend is none other than Jesus. We’ve all heard that tongue-in-cheek saying: “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. But when we ask God to come into our life, we’re adopted into His family, and Jesus becomes our Brother. He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Friends, if you don’t know Jesus, I encourage you to welcome him into your heart today. Make him your best friend. He doesn’t need anything from us apart from our love and obedience. And he promises one day we’ll go to heaven and live with Him forever. What more could you want from a friend?
Prayer: Father, we all need a friend. We confess we don’t spend as much time with you as we do with others. We neglect to show both you and others our appreciation. We’re often guilty of being a “fair-weather friend”. Help us to love one another as you love us, and help us to show our love and gratitude to you by being obedient. Amen.
JJ Ollerenshaw Belleville, Ontario, Canada