There are friends I know whom I have never met.  But I read their words, thus heart, and know their camaraderie.

Many find me odd when I refer to them as friends, but I know them as nothing other.  They have taught me how to lead, how to endure, how to celebrate, how to express.  They have taught me the difference between complaint and  lament.   They have shown me, in countless ways, what it looks like and entails on a very practical level, to follow Christ.

Moses teaches me how Gods sovereign plan over my life will ultimately lead me to shine His glory.  Moses shows me how to trust when I am standing all alone on foreign land and how to disciple the ones whom The Lord has put beside me.  And Joshua, his disciple, shows me what bravery and faith look like.  He reminds me what obedience in the midst of fear, mourning and confusion feels like.  He make me want to be a courageous warrior for our God.  Ester reminds me that being torn from family of origin and placed in a foreign situation can be the perfect training ground for a moment that may be before me.  She teaches me how patience, beauty and choosing the right moment and presentation is not manipulation, but rather wisdom.  Ruth again walks me through being thrown into a life I never planned for, yet keeping my eyes above the waves (even when those I have looked to for leadership find themselves overcome with fear and bitterness).  She reminds me that our Lord has a Plan in mind and my only job is to trust Him, rely on Him, serve in His name while He works out His Plans.  She reminds me of the legacy I will leave, or not leave, based on my decisions.

Peter, one dearest to my heart, paints before me the picture of one whose heart so wants to follow but who is clumsy and awkward in his growth.  He makes me cheer, and cry, reminding me that in the end a life given wholly to The Lord is one so markedly different, so profoundly piercing, that it shines of testimony.  But it grows into such.

Jonah, who I am not sure I consider a friend but rather an understood acquaintance, I contemplate hourly right now.  He and I are tracking.  I, like him,  don't want to do what I have been asked to do.  And I have a thousand good reasons why.  Jonah shows me how futile my current behavior is.   More on this later.

And then there are others, non-biblical friends who walk with me. Sometimes they are the only ones around who seem to see the world as I do.  C.S. Lewis, a friend I had searched for all my life, seems to capture in words my deepest heart song and sing it with winsome eloquence and conviction.  I read brief passages of his daily, like calling in to check on an old friend and just say hi.  He meets me, if only for a second, and I am reminded that the Lords people have gone before me, all straining to recall the song they were born remembering.  

Edith Schaeffer, Susanna Wesley and Sarah Edwards, women of vision and purpose, remind me what following a difficult man requires.  But more than that, what investing in the lives of others amidst great hardship can produce.  They spur me, challenge me, encourage me and walk me gently through land I have never walked.  I have no idea how to be a child, daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother in all the different life stages through which I pass, so I pay close attention to their choices, both profitable and poor.

I could write for hours on these friends I've never met (and perhaps one day I will) but what I want to highlight most is the common denominator: the one true God.  Each friend serves a different purpose in our lives, and at once, if we are Believers, serves the same purpose.  They walk with us like Sam walked with Frodo.  They remind us when we have forgotten, stand with us when we battle, and point us ever to the One for whom all of this life was made.  They help us learn to worship.  They help us see more of Him as He shines in their lives.

This Easter season I thank my God for how he forms us with stories.  For the characters throughout history who have held a banner of testimony which runs parallel to the gospel, ever painting it's colors as true.    I thank my God for how we can believe Him and trust in His salvation, knowing that His word never fails!  He means what He says!

So many have gone before me and proclaim Him as true and sincere.  I stand with them now, heralding from the mountaintops that He is God.  Do you hear all those who have gone before you?  Do you see the beautiful tapestry?

We serve a risen Savior, one who died and rose only to ransom us.  He is leading us through this life to the place He has prepared for us, "a place that where God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand."

Oh the Stories.  Oh the richness and dimension.  Oh the friends who will one day sing next to me for all of eternity.  I just can't wait.