A few summers ago I had the extraordinary opportunity to see the Broadway musical, “Beautiful”, which is about the life of singer and songwriter Carole King. Her story is fascinating. I had no idea how many songs she has written, and how reluctant she was to sing her own compositions. Many of her greatest efforts wererecorded by someone else, as she took “second chair” to somebody else’s great talent. It is fitting that one of her best known works was recorded by her friend James Taylor: (ear worm alert! You’ll have this stuck in your head all day!)
When you’re down and troubled
And you need some love and care
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night
You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend
King, an extraordinary talent on her own, served as a type of “Barnabas” to Taylor. Forty years later, they still tour together.
Barnabas was an encourager to Paul, and his presence and actions brought the early church into focus. He gave Paul the center stage and stood with him as the church was growing and expanding beyond Jerusalem:
Acts 11:22-26 New International Version (NIV)
News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
When I think back to my own times of trouble, I realize that God sent me some pretty incredible”Barnabas” friends along the way. I have been prayed over, lifted up, listened to and loved through many trials and tribulations. Every day I have an opportunity to walk my dog with a true friend who bends her ear and offers great counsel. I am blessed with two running partners who embody Taylor’s lyrics, as when I call out their names, they come running, (see what I did there?) offering me a safe and nonjudgmental space to be myself and WHINE as we put in our miles.
Who in your life needs you to Barnabas them today? Who would thrive under your encouraging and uplifting words? Who needs reminding that they are loved unconditionally, and cherished by the creator of the universe, who offers life abundant? Someone you know needs encouragement today.
Barnabas’ entire life was focused on bringing people to our ultimate friend, Jesus. Jesus was the kind of friend of whom it was said:
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Everyone needs a friend like him.
My grandmother once told me that to have a friend, you need to be a friend. I bet God has put someone in your life right now that needs your friendship. There is someone in your life right now that needs to be reminded of Jesus’ love for them. Make the call, send the text, reach out to someone who is hurting and alone, and tell them “you’ve got a friend”. You just might save a life.