Flipping through my hand held collection of so-called news, sport scores and other general foolishness, an image caught my eye; a man on the porch hanging Christmas lights while there were still jack-o-lanterns at his feet. The caption read, “Ah, Christmas lights. Too soon? Asking for a friend.” In spite of what the stores would say, the answer was of course, yes, too soon. Preparing for the spirit of Christmas? Never too soon, but at least wait with lights until turkey and pumpkin pie (with lots of whipped cream) have been consumed and afternoon naps in stretchy pants have been taken.
A slight bit of holiday humor had me considering “asking for a friend,” a phrase normally used to ask a question too embarrassing to sign your own name to. Yet in some cases, it is more a petition for someone in need than merely a humorous misdirection. Relying on a bolder voice can spread a message wider than those who choose to hide behind a keyboard (either computer or piano), myself included.
A centurion in Capernaum sent Jewish elders in his stead to find Jesus, as the centurion’s servant was ill. Perhaps the origination of “asking for a friend.”
Jesus … was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to Him, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed… When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well. Luke 7:6-10 NIV
No truer example of “asking for a friend,” for the centurion felt unworthy to even consider approaching Jesus. This centurion, with all his power and authority, could not save the life of his beloved servant. His belief in Jesus was the last arrow in his quiver, yet feeling inadequate, he asked others to “pull the bow” on his behalf.
Faith in believing, faith in asking (even if through another) and faith in humbling himself, accepting his own frailty. That is the faith Jesus saw.
Praying for others is noble but does it masquerade our need for healing in places we do not dare expose to the light of day? When my heart is not beating in the right direction, I am unable to help someone in need. “Asking for a Friend” conceals my need to sweep out dirty corners; making room for those God has called to dwell alongside. As Grandma taught us to take off muddy boots outside the door, we must wash our feet before approaching the Throne of Grace, for ourselves and for others.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:10-12 NIV
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
Asking for a friend…