Walking into my high school cafeteria was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life.
I had my lunch bag in my hand and I was hungry, but as I looked for a place to sit I saw that everyone was already sitting at tables, eating their lunches and talking. It was really loud and chaotic. The walls of the cafeteria echoed with chatter and laughter. The walls of my heart echoed with distressed thoughts.
Who will I sit with? Is there someone I know that has an open seat for me?
My eyes darted around the room as my heat beat faster and faster. Everyone has someone to sit with. I need a friend, but I don’t have one.
I began to feel hot and sweaty. What am I going to do? I’m all alone. People are starting to look at me.
My face became flushed. I wanted to crawl out of my skin and run away, but I couldn’t move. I was like a deer on the road caught in the headlights of a fast approaching car!
Somehow I jumped out of the way. I backed out of the lunch room before having a panic attack and fainting. I never went back into that lunch room again.
I Brought my Bible to School
Then I started bringing my Bible to school with me everyday. I didn’t know anyone else in my school who did that. I was afraid that other students might make fun of me, but that Bible was my lifeline!
Everyday I skipped lunch to avoid that dreadful scene of isolation and embarrassment in the cafeteria and I went to hide out in the school library. I found a cubicle and opened up my Bible. Later in the semester I realized that there were other social misfits like me who were hiding out in the library on their lunch hour so I got up my courage and sat with them. We talked a little bit, but mostly they studied their text books and I read my Bible.
In my Bible I read, “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Yes! I need a friend! There were 3,000 students at my high school. When I turned 16 I dropped out of sports to get an after school job at the town grocery store so I didn’t fit in with the Jocks anymore. Obviously, I didn’t fit in with the Popular Kids. Nor did I fit in with the Geeks or the Freaks. I didn’t even fit in with the few Christian kids I knew. I just didn’t fit in.
Thirsty for Divine Friendship
But I read where Jesus said, “I have called you friends” (John 15:15). Again, my heart leaped! Yes! I need a friend! I wanted for Jesus to be my Friend. I wanted to fit in with Jesus and his friends.
Shortly after this I found a friend of Jesus named Steve who became my friend. (Our parents had been friends in high school!) He went to another high school 45 minutes away but we got together often and did all sorts of fun things together. We shared our hearts and we sought Christ together. What a blessing Steve has been to me — even to this day!
Having a friend like Steve helped to experience more of the friendship of Christ.
Drinking Living Water
I also made friends with David, the sweet Psalmist of the Bible. For many years he lived in a dry and empty desert, often lonely and afraid. His prayers helped me not to feel so alone and ashamed. With David I prayed, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)
I was so thirsty for God! David helped me pray out of this longing for God.
But David didn’t just cry out for God in his desert he also found God’s oasis and drank in his loving presence:
Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O Lord, you preserve both humans and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among people find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. (Psalm 36:5-9)
Oh, to find refuge in shadow of the Lord’s wings, to feast on the abundance of his house, to drink from his river of delights! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Living in the Kingdom of God
Little-by-little over the years, I thank the Lord that I have learned to live in the here-and-now spiritual reality of Psalm 36. Now, through Scripture meditation and healing prayer when I remember myself standing alone in the crowded cafeteria of my high school I know that I am not actually alone — my Savior and Friend Jesus is with me. I see the spiritual reality of the Kingdom of the Heavens descending upon that lunch room and enveloping me (Matthew 4:17).
With David I take refuge in the shadow of the Lord’s wings, feast on the abundance of his house, and drink from his river of delights.
Maybe the longing of your heart is, “I need a friend.” I invite you to listen to Jesus — our Lord and Friend — with me. “Come to me,” he says. “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-39).
O fountain of Christ, satisfy my thirsty friends and I reading these words. Flow into our souls through the Bible and soul friendships. Overflow from us to the people around us who also are thirsty. Yes, Lord, your Spirit is the river of delights that we long for! Amen.