A sheltering tree
January 4, 2016
Pastor Matt Miklasz, Elim Mission Church, Cokato

In the Bible, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work. For if either falls the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.

“Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”

The book of Ecclesiastes is basically a man’s journal; that man is Solomon. What strikes me is Solomon experienced unparalleled fame, success, status and influence; God blessed him with immeasurable wealth and he experienced the pleasures of the world. Yet he lived a lonely life.

His journal reflects regrets of a man but also wisdom in that he realized the value of friendship. As he states, “Woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” Solomon is such a man. We read nowhere of any friendships, but we do read he fell and no one was there to lift him up.

We all need friends. Friendship is a great gift from God. Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once described friendship as a “sheltering tree.” What a beautiful description. A sheltering tree provides relief from heat and rest in a refreshing atmosphere.

I have a couple friendships that have provided me a sheltering tree over the years. My friends John and Jordan especially come to mind. These two men have been a constant support, faithful counselors, and joy-filled companions as we journey through life.

I am excited to be building new friendships here in Cokato and Dassel.

I have observed over time those with no close friends have none because they have not invested in relationships. Friendships are not automatic, they must be cultivated.

It is true, friends come in varying degrees. Some are casual friends; but a smaller number become close, intimate friends. Those who are sheltering trees who bring refreshment, relief, and joy into our lives and we, too, them. Those with no close, intimate friends are most often the loneliest people in the world.

Do you have close friends? Friendships that you pour love and encouragement into? If not, I strongly encourage you to begin to invest in relationships. Begin to build trust and the freedom to be you. It might take risk to open your life to another, but it is a risk well worth it.

Why not make one of your goals in 2016 to build into your friendships? Show appreciation to those sheltering trees God has brought into your life.

“Two are better than one.” So enjoy and maintain the gift given to you – the gift of friendship.

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