Friends Like Jonathan

My friend Victor and I
When I awoke this morning, there was a message in English on my phone asking if I had water in my apartment. I checked and, sure enough, there was no water coming out of the faucets. I needed to use the bathroom and and I also needed to shower and shave before heading to the church to preach. Fortunately, there was a Korean bathhouse a ten-minute walk away from my apartment and it was open for business. I relieved and bathed myself then walked home and dressed for church. I put the chocolate cake and a cheesecake I had baked yesterday into a Costco shopping bag and walked down to the bus stop to catch the 1141 or 1221 bus, whichever came first.

Why am I telling you all this? Because there are stories behind my story.

Who wrote that message asking about the water in my apartment? Eunjin Kim sent me that message after I had gone to bed last night. She checked the Korean language chat group that the other people in my building use to communicate their concerns and noticed that people were saying they had no water. Eunjin translates my sermons into Korean on Sunday mornings. When I moved into this apartment, Eunjin volunteered to be a mediator between me and the other residents since I cannot communicate in Korean. Through her, I can maintain good relations with the building manager.

Why was I taking the bus to church? This week, the faithful old red car was sold for less than $27 and delivered to the crusher for disposal. My means of transportation are now public transportation, my feet, and our household bicycle, if I can ever figure out the combination to remove the lock. Before leaving for Baltimore for another year of study at Maryland Bible College & Seminary, Pastor Sejun took care of all the paperwork and footwork necessary for retiring our broken-down vehicle. This was quite a challenging process since the owner of the car, Pastor DeVries, was in America and properly ought to have been the person to handle this issue. Knowing this car problem would be difficult for me to resolve myself, Pastor Sejun did this when he could have been packing his suitcases and getting ready for his journey.

Where did the cheese for the cheesecake come from? I baked a cheesecake that had ricotta cheese and cream cheese in it. Cheeses are expensive in local supermarkets and only a few varieties are available, usually American and mozzarella. My cheeses came from Costco, a store that is not in my neighborhood. How did I get there? Petros and Sujin along with their children Samuel and Hannah picked me up Friday evening and drove me to Costco to go grocery shopping. I have a Costco card and so they were able to shop too. We shared a food court pizza, a couple of hot dogs, and a bulgogi bake for dinner.

This morning I preached about the friendship between Jonathan and David. 1 Samuel 18 tells us that Jonathan's soul was knit to David's. Jonathan didn't do the knitting; God did. David didn't earn Jonathan's friendship; it was a gift of grace. David needed a friend and God gave him Jonathan whose name can be translated as "God has given" or "God's gift." Jonathan gave David his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt, symbolizing everything Jonathan was entitled to as the king's son. In 1 Samuel 20:4, Jonathan tells David, "Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you." Like Jesus Christ, Jonathan was a true friend.

We all need God-given friends like Jonathan in our lives, friends that stick closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), friends who lay down their lives for each other (John 15:13). We find friends like this in the body of Christ. My life is enriched by the godly friends He has given to me here in Korea as evidenced by these three examples. Like David, we all need a Jonathan in our lives and this also means that we all can be a Jonathan in the lives of other Davids.

I am blessed by the Jonathans here in Korea and around the world, including a Jonathan whose name is actually Jonathan. He truly lives up to his name.

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