This season, my family has been plagued with illnesses that are almost as strong-willed as we are. They continually knocked us down, causing school and work to be missed, and opportunities to be pushed aside. Our health has been weakened and our belts are a little looser.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:12

Today my daughter Karli invited me to exercise with her at a local park, so I agreed with the caveat that I would walk rather than run due to a lack of energy yet to be regained. I began while she stretched. My walking pace was quick and I felt pretty good, so after about 1/3 mile, I decided a short jog was possible. I got winded quickly, and began walking again. I could have continued to run, but it was very easy to talk myself out of it. I had little motivation and whole lotta excuse not to run.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11

After a mile of short spurts of both walking and jogging, my daughter caught up to me. Being in the moment, I started to run alongside her. We continued this for nearly another mile, keeping a steady pace with one another as we passed people, skirted dogs, and enjoyed having a partner. Even though I felt tired, it was easier to maintain a constant run since I was with her.

We often exercise together, but it was a good reminder that when we have a partner who faces our challenges with us, we get some encouragement, renewed energy, and shared determination to get over that hurdle. My daughter did this for me. To her it was a small thing; to me, a gift.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…”
Hebrews 10:24-25a

Having a partner means a close friend that is there for you: someone who listens, who encourages, and who is there for you no matter what. This person will pray for you and pray with you. They will encourage, inspire and speak the truth to you.

In turn, having a partner gives you the opportunity to do the same: listen, encourage, be truthful, and be there when they need you. Motivate them. Pray for them and pray with them.

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Matthew 18:19-20

A few years ago, my family and I vacationed in Montana. One day, we hiked to Fairy Lake, and quickly learned of another trail we could continue on to reach Sacagawea Peak. The winds were blowing up to 70 mph near the top, the temperature was in the 40’s, and we were not dressed nor prepared for this undertaking. Nevertheless, we all agreed it would be a fun attempt.

As we climbed, snow was becoming more prevalent although it was slowly melting. The trail was quickly belong more treacherous, giving most of us pause in how realistic and safe this hike was for us. With continued encouragement and shared excitement, we kept on. The climb steadily became nearly impossible as the narrow rocky trail was still newly cut from the winter, not to mention dangerously rocky and slick. After an hour’s climb, we agreed to turn around out of purely safety reasons. But, this required each one of us helping another out in their descent. We took turns, held another’s hand, continually speaking to each other words that would give them hope of arriving at the bottom in one piece.

Needless to say, even though we had to crawl down on our hands and knees in some places, we did walk out of the Saddlebacks safely, though quite shaken up. If it hadn’t been for their encouragement and sharing in this mountaintop experience, my testimony would be very different, and we wouldn’t have this common bond to look back on.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2

Every day we are in a battle, and we need at least one if not many battle buddies to get us through it. We also need to be someone else’s partner to help them face whatever comes their way too. Together, there is strength in numbers. Together there is resolve, determination, and someone who has your back while you have theirs.

Who are your partnering with? Is there someone who needs you to go to battle with them, alongside them?

Perhaps one day I will get to meet some of you who read these blogs. Until then, know that you are being prayed over, as a friend and a partner.

“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”

Food for thought: Being a partner in friendship means to be actively involved in word and deed for the best of their interest.

Fun facts: 1. About 1 out of 12 friendships last. 2. Friends are more easily accumulated today, but they are as quickly gone. 3. The majority of adults only have 2 best friends.

Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Hiking to Sacagawea Peak, Montana