Growing in Grace through Soul Friendships

Are you growing in grace?

Do you have friendships in your life that draw you closer to the Lord?

The most important goal in life as a believer in Jesus Christ is to grow in knowing Him more and becoming more like Him. So, if that is your goal in life, then it only stands to reason that you would desire to have friends with similar feelings and wants.

We end up with many different relationships in life, and there is a range to the depth of intimacy our relationships reach. The people you are closest to have the greatest influence on you and you on them. Their influence can be for good or for the worst. This helps us recognize why it is so important to make wise decisions or choices especially in our closest relationships. This is also why I asked if you have friendships that draw you closer to the Lord. Growing in grace should be a top priority and a soul friend can be a great help in that.

You may be wondering at this point what I mean when I say “soul friend.” Soul friend is a term I read about when I was doing a little personal studying on the spiritual disciplines. I was familiar with many of the disciplines mentioned, like meditation, prayer, study, solitude and silence, but I had not heard of that of “soul friendship.”

The following qualities are found in a soul friend, she or he:

  • has an intimate relationship with the Lord
  • lifts you up in prayer
  • shares honestly and truthfully with you
  • listens and empathises with you
  • helps you find your way to the Lord when you are distracted, frustrated, hurting, angry, or overwhelmed
  • helps you to hear and know the Lord’s truth about your situation

Mindy Caliquire says that a “spiritual friend” or “soul friend” helps us sit with God and helps us pay attention to Him.

We can be real with a soul friend, confess our problems, sins, share our needs, and be fragile enough to say ‘I need help.’ These kinds of friendships take time to form and develop, and often, I believe, they really come in answer to prayer.

I have been blessed with three soul friends in my life.  Three women who I have known varying lengths of time, but have grown deep with each because of our sharing. These friends do not know each other, they may have only heard me mention the others names. In each of these relationships our sharing with one another is all about honesty, asking probing questions, encouraging each other to seek wisdom, and praying for each other as we would pray for ourselves.

Each one of these three friends is a person I can share my deepest pain with. I can share the part of myself that I rarely tell anyone about. The pain that gets triggered at the most unexpected time, the pain that really makes no sense in the current situation but is all about the hurt of the past. I can be real and share the hurt I feel in a situation, or explain why I reacted. I can explain my reaction as it is connected to my pain, and they will know and connect with me in it. They will reassure me. And it works both ways, I know their inner conflicts and deep hurts, as well as their insecurities and I can be there for them.

Our conversations center around life, how we feel about life, what the Lord is teaching us, and where we are struggling. Our conversations always include how we can pray for each other, sharing Bible verses that touch our hearts, and giving God the glory for what He is doing.

None of us are squeaky clean, on the verge of perfection and knowing it all. We all are struggling in our own ways and we all need help for this journey called life.

We each need at least one soul friend in our lives. There are a couple of verses from God’s Word that come to mind as I share about soul friends. One is Proverbs 27:17:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. 

A soul friend helps you grow in the things of the Lord, in learning about Him, in learning His Word, in learning about living in Christlikeness. Iron is sharpened.

The other verse is just a couple of verses further into chapter 17 of Proverbs at verse 19:

“Oil and perfume rejoice the heart; so does the sweetness of a friends counsel that comes from the heart.”

The “sweetness of a friends counsel,” words spoken in truth and with love are so sweet. Those words connect our hearts in very special ways and keep us coming back to one another for more support, encouragement, and help. And, more importantly, we find our soul friends leading us back to the love of the Lord, to His wisdom, and that is truly irresistable.

If you do not have a soul friend in your life right now, ask the Lord to show you who He desires you to have that kind of relationship with, and let Him lead you in it.  He can and will make it happen, because there is nothing He wants more than for us to be growing in knowing and loving Him as we enjoy His love in others. He wants us to be growing in grace. He answers these prayers in amazing ways! You won’t be disappointed.

Next post we will consider Growing in Grace through Meditation, Reflection, and Journaling.


Lord, I Need You, I’m Depressed

Sadness is a part of life. It is often related to or can be attributed to life circumstances, disappointments, or losses. But there are time of deep sadness or even depression that can really knock you down.

I went through a very deep depression a number of years ago. It was a time of darkness and hopelessness. I was out of work for 11 months. I felt like I was drowning, and I couldn’t find my way out.

When we deal with depression we have varying responses as to how we get help, or even if we get help. I met with a Christian counselor and she helped me work through some issues that were affecting me. I also went on medications to help me with my depression, anxiety, and sleep issues.

The more I knew about the emotional pain from which my depression stemmed, the more I felt like I knew exactly what I needed to have happen in my life so that I could go on. It was a heart neediness that I needed help with. There was a deep emptiness, a hurt endured, a need unmet, but, my first response was not to call out to the Lord. I thought that I knew what I needed and I tried to manipulate getting the need met on my own terms.

It took a number of months of suffering before the Lord made it clear to me that I was praying for Him to work in my solution in my predetermined way rather than coming to Him for healing according to His wisdom. I prayed that the Lord would work it all out according to my plan.

When I finally accepted that truth of my sin and confessed it, I chose to ask Him to heal me His way. It was then that I saw Him work in my heart and life. It was amazing how He showed me His love for me and helped to grow my trust in Him.

He used the medications, the counselor, and the doctor to help me through, but He is absolutely the One who healed my heart. He knew I needed to trust Him with my neediness. in the deepest of ways. He knew I needed a deeply intimate relationship with Him more than I needed anything else.

O Lord I need you!

Elijah went through a period of depression. It is recorded in 1 Kings 19 in the BIble. Elijah had just experienced God’s miraculous, supernatural power in response to his prayer. And the next thing we read is how Elijah is filled with fear. He is exhausted, he is depressed, and he wants to dies.

Elijah had been running because his life was being threatened. One day he knows the hope of God’s power and suddenly he can only feel the gloom of despair. The Bible doesn’t explain how Elijah gets from that mountaintop joy of a miracle to the place of defeat and despair. But the Lord is there too. Elijah tells the Lord that he just wants to die. And, God meets him in that place.

I think when we are feeling so depressed we often just want the pain to be gone. And sometimes the pain is so excruciating we just want to die.

The Lord knew Elijah’s need and met him there. We too can cry out to the Lord in our neediness. The Lord know our needs. He knew that Elijah felt lonely and scared. He knew that Elijah was exhausted and in need of food and water. And the Lord met those needs.

The Lord also knew that Elijah needed to know the Lord in a new way. I think that the Lord allows us to hit rock bottom so that we can look up with new eyes of neediness to see Him again. It is in those wilderness places of life when we feel no hope that the Lord wants us to see Him as all we need.

Elijah had just seen the Lord send fire down from heaven. Elijah had prayed and trusted that the Lord would answer and prove Himself as True God. Yet when Jezebel threatened his life he crumbled.

I know one thing I realized about my faith in my depression mostly after my depression is that the Lord wanted me to grow in my trust of Him. He wanted me to share the depths of my neediness with Him and depend on Him in it to care for me and satisfy me.

God is a personal God who is able to do amazing and miraculous things in this world. yet we so easily forget that He is that same able God in our personal wilderness of depression.

Yes, He has given us doctors, counselors, medications, and books that we can turn to for help. But He desires us to bring even our deepest neediness to Him. Nothing is too hard for Him. He wants to personally show us His glory. He wants to whisper hope in His still, small voice into our brokenness.

The Lord is able to take the deepest hurt and emotional pain and bring healing. He is able to use whatever we have gone through for His glory. He is able to satisfy our hearts with His love and with His perfect plans for our lives. When you cry, “Lord, I need you,” you can expect Him to show up and work in that hurting place. It may not be an overnight fix, but He will hold you in the pain and bring you to a place of new hope. We can always depend on and trust in HIm!



The Throne of Grace

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Doesn’t that verse just make you sigh a breath of relief? It’s like you have been walking around carrying a boulder on your back and then God tells you that He can take that boulder off. And beyond that, He offers to help you with whatever else you need. So you dump it off and breathe. Thank you Lord.

We can come to God’s throne. Really! How awesome is that.

“A throne is the seat of a sovereign; a throne of grace is designed to represent a Sovereign seat to dispense mercy and pardon.”

God is sovereign, He is in absolute control. So if it were just any throne, we should not be able to approach without invitation. And I can’t imagine why any king would call me to his throne. But we as believers have access, and it isn’t just any throne, it is a throne of grace. Jesus has given us access to our Creator God.

We come to the throne “not depending on our own merits but we come where a sufficient sacrifice has been offered for human guilt, and where we are assured God is merciful.”

We can come to the throne boldly, with confidence because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

“It is easy to be forgiven. All that needs to be done is to plead the merits of our Great High Priest and God is ready to pardon.”

Jesus is our Great High Priest. A priest in the Old Testament would make sacrifice for the sins of the people. But Jesus changed all of that. Jesus became the sacrifice for all of our sins. A sacrifice does not have to be done again and again. Jesus did it once and for all.

So we come to God’s throne of grace with confidence because of Jesus. And there at the throne “we received mercy and find grace.”

We are sinful people. There isn’t a day that goes by that we live without sin in our lives. We are in desperate need of forgiveness of sins.

1 John 1:9 tells us that “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” So we come to the throne and tell the Lord of our sin.

We come with a deep realization of our deep need for forgiveness whenever we come to the throne because we are approaching a Holy God. We remember what Jesus did for us and in humility stand before God desiring His mercy on us.

Our Sovereign God grants us mercy out of His amazing love for us, the love that gave us Jesus (John 3:16).

Then, once we are pardoned, we stand there before God in our desperation and we find grace for all of life. We find “strength, help, counsel, direction, support” and so much more.

How reassuring it is to know that we have this lifeline in prayer. The Lord offers us grace to help us in time of need.

He will help us :

  • in the good times when we want to believe we can do it all in our self-sufficiency, but find we can’t. We only need to recognize our neediness and call on Him in humility.
  • in the mundane, doldrums of life. He is present. we can turn to HIm and He will help us through. He knows our feelings. He can lead us to know our significance in Him if we only call to Him. He knows our worth in Jesus.
  • in the painful times of loss and grief. He knows the grief and pain we bear. we can bring our tears to Him and share our sorrows. He will give comfort and wrap us in His love. We must only come to the throne.
  • in difficult, troublesome times. He knows those days that nothing goes right and your frustration level is higher than the roof. We can come to the throne and ask for help. He knows our weakness, and can give us strength and counsel.
  • in the moments of desperation, where you don’t know which way to turn. He can lead us in wisdom to help us move forward encouraged.

The Lord is always available. We can come to Him at any time. He listens to the cry of our hearts and will respond with grace to help us. He welcomes our neediness and desires our dependence on Him.

Are you struggling today? You can go to Him right now. He will meet you where you are.  He is faithful and true to His promises. Let’s approach His throne with confidence, He has all we need for life. He gives us the rest we need.

Take your struggle to the throne of grace today.

(All quotes are taken from Albert Barnes Notes on the Whole Bible – public domain.)