Let's establish one fact right from the start. Golden Delicious Apple friends are rare. When I speak of these golden beauties I'm not talking of the dozen or so good gal pals you have. Those are a blessing indeed. But these Golden Delicious Apple friends are such that you could never really manage to keep in your possession more than a hand full. They require too much diligence, too much love for that.
So as you think over your bushel of friends you may even be surprised to find that while you have any number of "good" friends, you in fact have none of the Golden Delicious variety. I hope that's not the case, but it may be. Remember, a Golden Delicious Apple friend is a unique and carefully cultivated friend. Some even call her a "spiritual friend," for her primary concern is indeed your spiritual welfare. She wants you to swim in God's grace, live in His presence, appropriate His faithfulness, savor His love, obey His commands, and thrive in His purpose for you. This friend is God's ally. And she is a blessing through and through.
The Golden Delicious Apple was first discovered quite by chance on the Mullins' family farm in Clay County, West Virginia around 1891. One day L.L. Mullins sent his 15-year-old son out into the orchard to mow the pasture with a large scythe. On that day the young man happened upon a chance seedling that only stood about 20 inches tall. It was a new little apple tree that had voluntarily surfaced through the fertile ground; there wasn't another apple tree anywhere close by. The young man thought to himself, "Now young feller, I'll just leave you there." And that's what he did.
The young Mullins chap mowed around that chance seedling that day and every time he was sent to mow the fields in the future. Eventually it grew into a fine tree and bore apples, the yellow apples which we now enjoy for their distinctly golden, sweet taste. This apple tree became the grandfather of all Golden Delicious Apples. Around 1938, the tree and the small plot of land on which it stood (just the 30 feet surrounding the tree) was sold to the Star Brothers Nursery for the then golden sum of $5,000! You may be able to buy these large yellow apples at your grocers for less than a dollar today, but next time you do, remember their roots run rich!
I tell you this true story (which I uncovered at Wikipedia) because I want you to understand that just as the Golden Delicious Apple tree was nothing less than an act of a creative and generous God, so are your Golden Delicious Apple friends. These friends are gifts. They are to be treasured. They should be appreciated. And we must come to terms with the fact that we don't happen by them easily.
But just like the young Mullins chap who ventured out to do the necessary work of the day at the bidding of his father, when you and I are busy about the work of our Father and looking for the miracles that may come, we may be blessed with the discovery of a Golden Delicious. God is the provider of all good and perfect gifts, friends included.
So how do you increase your odds of finding a Golden Delicious Apple friend?
- First of all, look in the right orchard: the family of God. A Golden Delicious Apple friend is, by necessity, a woman of God.
- Ask the Creator for one. Ask Him to send you such a friend who will encourage you toward Him and toward holiness.
- Be a Golden Delicious Apple yourself. Practice the practices of the Apples of Gold I listed in the previous post. Be the kind of person who prays for her friends, offers to pray with her friends, asks discerning questions, encourages others toward excellence, insists on godly behavior within your relationships -- barring things like gossip, criticism, husband bashing, and whining -- and rejoices in others' successes.
Trust me, a Golden Delicious Apple friend is worthy of the pursuit. But we can only have such a friend if we are such a friend.
Tomorrow we'll talk some more about friendships. Meanwhile, do you have a friendship question you'd like me to address on this blog?