Then the father said to him, “My son, you’re always with me. Everything I have belongs to you.” ~Luke 15:31
Today, June 27, 2023, my lifelong friend of forty-four and a half years, Joe Wendel, turns 50. I’ve been reflecting on this verse over the past several days with regard to our unique, enduring friendship.
In fact, this verse was impressed upon me and injected into me last week by Ruach while I was working on the slideshow for Joe’s birthday celebration.
As I was combing thru the plethora of photos spanning a lifetime, I kept seeing all the wonderful people Joe and his wife Julie have spent time with, broken bread with, traveled with. It was quite beautiful to witness the many lives they’ve touched so deeply in one sitting. Yet in seeing all of this magnificence, there was a moment when I had before me this fruit calling forth for me to grab and ingest, fruit from the tree of jealousy and envy. I could easily have found myself going down the dark road of “Hey, we’ve been friends the longest, why do they get to enjoy all this wonderful benefit?” And then I was suddenly stunned by the Holy Spirit and immediately filled with words from Jesus’s parable of the father and two sons. You may remember the end of that story when the elder son was complaining to his father about throwing this huge party for the younger son, stating his case with, “I’ve been serving you all these years!” It was the words of the father’s reply that completely melted me. He said, “My son, you’ve always been with me. Everything I have is yours.”
Any hint of jealousy was crushed by the beauty of these words. I knew and felt that the Spirit was conveying to me what Joe has been showing me thru his life and friendship all these years. It was like I was hearing Joe say to me, “Rob, you’ve always been with me. We’ve been with each other thru every major aspect of life, post diapers. Even when we were many miles apart, we were really still together. Everything I have is yours, and I’m not simply talking about material possessions, but everything I am, my heart, has always been totally available to you.”
I just melted. I melted into a gratitude that is beyond what human language can properly communicate. I was overwhelmed by a fresh sense of this friendship that I know is pure, divine gift from our loving Father, and which I do not deserve.
This verse has a newer, deeper meaning to me now. May it move you as well to reflect with sincere gratefulness upon any beautiful, lasting relationship you might be blessed with.
Thank you, Papa Yahweh.
Thank you, Pneuma.
Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, Joe.