Life is full of extraordinary mysteries, not the least of which is the collision of significant connection; relationships that are forged on the pin-point pivot of circumstance. People were simply in the right place at the right time, and something magical happened. No one can possibly foresee the spark that occurs between two unlikely temperaments, but it happens. I often marvel how there’s absolutely no accounting for chemistry, either in romance or friendship! Much as differing metals are forged, the oddest combinations of personality can form the steeliest of bonds.
History is chock full of these novel paradoxes. Age, sex or race don’t seem to have much effect when the spark between two people is simply there. Despite discrepancies, distance or careers, personal chemistry prevailed, often benefiting both parties in the most unexpected of results. Two people tickle each other’s sense of humor, challenge their intellect or resonate with the same spiritual mandates, and something unique is born. A rare conflux of talent and desire aligns and the universe is never the same. The Bible, of course is full of pithy wisdom about the nature of relationships, and especially the friendships that alter our reality.
As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17
Open rebuke is better than love that is hidden. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful. Proverbs 27:5-6
In the Old Testament, the classic odd-couple pairing was David and Jonathan. While they were both good Jewish boys about the same age, a huge disparity in class should have kept them safely separated, but it didn’t go that way. These two should have hated each other on site, but Jonathan took one look at the giant-slayer, David spotted Jonathan hovering respectfully on the fringe, and a new standard was set for bromance. It was destined from heaven, defying all social boundaries and political protocol.
In the New Testament, a supremely unlikely bond is formed between Paul the Apostle and a wealthy woman of Philippi named Lydia. On the Sabbath, Paul went down to the river to join the prayer meeting that met there.
And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us. Acts 16:13-15 NKJV
While this is a ministry situation, and in a sense, a case of the faithful succoring the prophet, the very unusual nature of this combination bespeaks another element at play. For Paul to accept an invitation to the house of a (possibly) single businesswoman of Gentile background was unlikely indeed. It’s not hard to accede into the text a strong element of interpersonal connection; of mutual respect.
Let’s take this phenomenon one step further. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor”. Solomon then warms on his theme, pondering the difference the Lord makes in the interpersonal equation by saying, “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken." (V 12)
“A threefold cord is not quickly broken”. That’s a very small sentence with a dynamo of meaning. Three wills in agreement, especially if one of them is the Lord’s, is a powerhouse combination. Earthly friendships are formidable, but heavenly ones are next-level. With a divine plutonium core, a relationship can weather all manner of unprecedented tempests. This is doubly true if the Lord Himself is the instigator of the union.
Years ago, when I was working in Lacombe, I cried out in prayer for significant friendships. Little did I suspect I was in the flow of the Holy Spirit! I was working at my own business, so I had neither the time nor the money for an extravagant social life. Besides which, being an introvert, I’m not inclined that way. One day, I definitely felt the Lord answer, saying “call _____, and ask her to be your prayer sister”. That one set me back on my heels for a minute, because this person was an considerably older woman from my church whose high-voltage personality was not one I was attracted to. In fact, our two personalities were so different as to be downright repellent. Drama seemed to follow in the wake of this gregarious extrovert, and I was not up for any more stress. But on a rare occasion of leaping in to the deep, I picked up the phone and called her. My gentle request was met with a stunned silence before she answered tearfully “I’ve been praying for a prayer sister!”. Needless to say, that was all that was required for the two of us to embark on an intense relationship with the Lord at the center which will soon span twenty years. While we don’t speak as often as we did, our conversation immediately finds the same depth it grew to.
Lately, I’ve experienced a similar circumstance with someone I would not have naturally have gravitated towards on personal chemistry. The Lord prompted me to ask her out for coffee. We’ve since discovered His purpose in it, and the number of passions that we share in common. It’s taught me not to be quick about jumping to conclusions about people. First impressions should not be etched in stone. There are many hidden gems, obscured by our own bias and bluster. We’ve got to keep our heart open in the glorious, shifting kaleidoscope of life. You never know the bosom-buddy waiting to be discovered around the next corner.