This year Ready for the Road Ahead is taking on a new direction. It is one that follows the grand theme of sight in all aspects which runs throughout Scripture. My weekly writings will be excerpts from a book of the same name which should be published (Lord willing) later this year.
While a tripod may not be human it is certainly one of the photographer’s best friends. Laurence Noah, a photography blogger, listed 10 useful purposes for this trusty photographic side-kick which included things like holding the camera steady during long exposure shots and landscapes. I would add two more from my own experience. The tripod is oftentimes more sure and steady than even the most rock solid hand-held shot, and when you attach a remote shutter to your camera the tripod allows you to step away from it so that you can capture elusive subjects like birds. It may not be as devoted as a human friend can be, but it’s just as dependable.
If you’re looking for the qualities and traits of a good friend on the internet you won’t have trouble finding them. Lists contain anywhere from 7 to 44 different characteristics with traits such as trustworthy, honest, a good listener, supportive in good and bad times, able to find humor in life and the ability to express empathy in times of need. Sadly, the man who needed friends the most in his time of trouble, Job, had so-called friends who sorely lacked in many of these areas. Chapter 2 of Job opens with the arrival of three of Job’s friends who have supposedly come to offer him support after calamity has struck. If these three had truly come to offer sympathy and comfort, it was never recorded! The long-winded speeches of Job’s friends in chapters 3 through 37 contain perfectly logical arguments constructed to prove the common belief that suffering equaled sin. Rather than comfort their words were literally salt poured on Job’s open wounds. But instead of accepting the usual explanation, “you’re getting what you deserve”, Job demonstrates that suffering actually reveals how truly godly one is as they bear the unbearable and seek the comfort of God in the midst of their trial.
Other Bible passages have some things to say about friendship too. Some of the most telling verses about what makes someone a good friend come out of the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs informs us that a friend loves at all times (17:17), watches what they say (7:4; 16:28), is not a “fair weather friend” but sticks “closer than a brother” (18:24), speaks the truth in love (27:6) rather than using the flattery of a deceptive enemy, offers “sweet” counsel in their words (27:9), comes to your aid because they want to not because they have to (27:10) and doesn’t make a show of themselves (27:14). Two other verses stand out in the New Testament. Jesus described how a friend responds when there is a persistent need in your life (Lk. 11:5-8) and taught that the greatest form of friendship is the setting aside of one’s own needs for that of another (Jn. 15:13).
Perhaps the most tumultuous time in a person’s life is the early teen years. The choice of one’s friends in those hormonally charged years is truly critical. The right kind of friends make you feel like you matter in spite of what goes on in school or at home. The wrong friends tend to encourage poor choices and get you into trouble. Unfortunately you have to learn the difference between these two the hard way. At least I did! But the Lord in His providence allowed me to realize my poor choice in one particular “friend” before it was too late. “Mary” came from a broken home and was often left to her own devices. Now many years later I can see that her behavior was probably a cry for help. But I got sucked into that behavior for a short time and I’m not proud to say, followed her exactly UNTIL we were almost caught. It scared me so much that I finally listened to my conscience and stopped. The friendship died almost immediately when Mary saw that I would no longer participate with her. If Mary was a tripod she was a cheap, shoddy, knock-off of one of the top brands. She initially gave the impression of being a friend but the materials by which she was made were unreliable and substandard.
Although she was not a good friend she taught me an invaluable lesson on the traits and qualities of someone who is. Job’s friends fell short of the Biblical model of friendship in every way just like Mary did. But they also teach us about what to look for in true friends just like Mary taught me. The tripod is a good illustration for what a true friend does. Its sturdy design and the abilities it has to improve one’s pictures reminds us that true friends are a great support and help us to be what God truly intends for us to be. So if you’re in the market for a true friend, think “tripod”!
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre