How would you define friendship?
I stood proudly among the few who had survived the strenuous months before. It was graduation night. Not high school or college but the fire academy. My high school diploma was a walk in the park, but this I had worked for. I had poured my blood, sweat and tears into this one. Forty two people showed up that first night and now only fourteen remained standing. Among them was Firefighter Foxworthy, the only female to make it to the end.
Tradition is heavily engrained in the fire service. One of my favorite subjects was studying the history of the fire service. With that comes the “brotherhood.” I was once told by a salty old fire instructor that there was no such thing as a firefighter, there are only “female firemen.” In this business a friendship or place in the “brotherhood” is not given freely. It must be earned.
On my wall is a picture of a firefighter with wings imprinted with the verse “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Many times in the fire service, law enforcement and military this verse is referenced in regards to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in giving up their lives in the line of duty.
A question crossed my mind as I dove into this study. What does this verse look like before the ultimate sacrifice? What does it mean to lay down your life for a friend? It all comes down to love.
If we look back in John chapter 15 Jesus teaches a very clear lesson on who and what love is.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made know to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit- fruit that will last- and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
John 15:9-17 NIV
Since my spinal cord injury six years ago I have missed nothing more than working on the engine and the fellowship and brotherhood that came with that duty. I had to work for that title and friendship. How much more of a blessing to be called friend by Jesus Christ! By the Almighty God! Laying down your life for your friend does not mean a physical death, although this is the ultimate love that our friend Jesus paid for us. I did not have to shed any blood, sweat or tears for the most amazing friendship(s) because Christ bore that for me. To lay down our lives is to put aside our personal interests and selfish motives to lift up our brothers and sisters, our friends in Christ.
I have been so blessed by the friends in my life and those who truly portray God’s love to me. It is my prayer that I can be the same friend to others. Laying down my life and showing them a love that can only come from the Father through Christ Jesus.
So, what does laying down your life for a friend look like in your life?
Ashley’s Other Blogs on the PWTE website:
- Equipped to Climb
- Stupid Rocks!!!
- Not for the Faint of Heart, Or Is It?
- Living in the Dark Hours
- Tree Hugger
I have always had an adventurous soul and proudly an “adrenaline junky.” I love to live life not knowing what is around the next corner. Some of these adventures I have chosen, others I have and would not. The combination of adventure, adrenaline and living in Colorado has naturally led me to enjoy the outdoors in ways more than a peaceful hike. Although I used to always enjoy a quiet, relaxing hike. Some of the sports I enjoy include climbing both rock and ice, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, camping and whatever other creative way I can get out and play. As I dig deeper and deeper into the word I relate so much of my adventures with the adventure of following the Holy Spirit. I hope that through sharing those adventures you may be encouraged to step out in faith and follow the crazy adventure God has for you in this life. The climb is most definitely not an easy ride to the top, but the view from the top beats any ache, pain, stumble and fall along the way. So clip into your rope and get ready for the hardest, most rewarding climb of your lifetime. I can’t wait to be at the top with you and view all of God’s splendor.
Ashley is an adaptive athlete. Although she has always had a passion for enjoying the outdoors that passion increased after having a spinal cord injury at 24 causing incomplete paralysis and muscle weakness throughout her trunk and legs. She continues to enjoy wild adventures with the help of adaptive equipment and assistance of others. There have been many ups and downs throughout the years but each reveals more and more of God’s grace and faithfulness.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV