“Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” – 1 Samuel 18:1
Welcome to part two of my series on friendship. Let me tell you a little bit more about the origin of my obsession with the notion of deep, supernatural, lifelong friendship.
The origin of my pursuit of Friendship
Four years ago, my husband and I felt called to move to Darwin. We have only now recently returned from our adventure in the territory. In the three and a half years I was away, I met a combination of some of the strangest people, as well as some of the most inspiring people I have ever known.
The melting pot of different extremes did not stop at people.
It seemed to cross over into many other facets of life in the territory. In one moment, you would be surrounded with the most breathtaking sights of natural beauty. There was no greater example of this than the indescribable Darwin sunsets. And in the same location there would be public drunkenness, violence and poverty as the long grassing Indigenous people without a house to hide in would confront you constantly with their devastating need. Truly Darwin is a unique place where the beauty of God is as evident as the depravity of humans without the love of God. At times it is at times a most perplexing place to be.
In this land of conflicting realities, we experienced the most incredible three years of our lives to date.
I became friends with incredible Indigenous leaders who I am sure will impact this nation like none other and start the great awakening of the Indigenous people to the love of their Father.
I worked as a doctor in some of the most remote places throughout the territory. This included a six-month stint to a lonely remote island called Groote Eslante, where ‘character building’ became my language to describe what was the hardest six months of my life to date.
I gleaned daily reams of wisdom from the ‘Territory news.’ A newspaper famous through Darwin and beyond for its outstanding journalism and representation of what is truly worthy of being reported (that is the opposite of what it is).
For the first time I began the daunting yet exhilarating journey of becoming a leader in a local church.
I can genuinely say I had the time of my life and grew more in my personal life, professional life, and in our marriage than I ever dreamed possible in such a short time.
With everything that I experienced in our epic three years in the Territory, I can sum up the single most prevailing lesson I learned in one sentence.
Relationships are Everything
A wise man once said, “It is never as much about the destination, as it is about the relationships that you make on the way.” I know now that no truer words have been spoken.
Relationships are everything
For the last three and a half years I have watched my husband fall in love with his Best Friend, David Ridley. I witnessed first hand, as they were filled with a supernatural, godly love for each other and also how they have fought for their friendship, continuously prioritising one another. Now it is almost like their hearts are joined together in the most Godly, brotherly union. It is the closest to a Jonathan and David like experience that I have seen to date. They bear each other’s burdens, they connect on a spiritual level of friendship, they share all their deepest desires and fears. They respect and honour each other deeply, and most of all they have the greatest fun together. It is truly a friendship that fills me with Godly jealousy (I’m not sure if there is such a thing), as well as gratitude that my husband gets to partake of such a life-giving relationship.
Let me tell you how it all began
The call to Darwin
It was over four years ago when God told us to move to Darwin. Mark and I had been sitting at the table one day in our tiny one bedroom rental in West End, Brisbane. By tiny, I mean our Ikea fold-able table, which was likened to a kids table, was all we could fit in the ‘dining room.’ Mark looked like a giant eating at the children’s table when he sat at it. His knees barely fit underneath. It was, however the perfect size for me. The house was so small I could eat breakfast, see and chat to Mark while he lay on the bed not much more than 2 metres away. As I love time with my husband you can imagine how much I enjoyed this. Except for when I was lying in bed and could smell poo wafts from the toilet which was also only a few meters away. That was definitely not very sexy. Not great for getting one in the mood for procreation. We digress.
It was at this doll sized unit, sitting at our little table when Mark heard what he describes as the closest to an audible voice that he had heard before and has not heard since. He heard God invite him to go on a trip to Darwin. A couple of our most adventurous friends were planning a hunting trip that we were talking about when the Father spoke to him.
Now let me be clear
Mark hates the idea of hunting. Back than he also hated the idea of Darwin. So the combination of the two were his actual worst nightmare. Yet he was obedient, and he joined Mitchel Ramsay and our other friend on an adventure which would change the course of our lives.
He found himself on a hunting trip which turned into a three week mission trip through Arnhem land, with three juvenile Indigenous boys and a young fresh faced man named David Ridley. Dave and his beautiful wife Ruth had just moved the territory a year ago. After spending some time in Mozambique with Iris, they felt the pull of the Holy Spirit invite them to Darwin. Full of vision and with tangible destiny on their lives they arrived in Darwin. Ruth was freshly pregnant, neither of them had jobs and very few contacts and connections in a strange place. A place full of both incredible beauty and character, and intense confronting spiritual need, physical poverty and violence.
Dave had spent his first year in an old degenerate building working for Youth for Christ (YFC).
He was the only one in that building. The only one, in fact working for YFC in the territory at the time. YFC was as lifeless in Darwin as Beef Jerky. Dried and shrivelled up except without the flavour. Yet this incredible young man saw vision and destiny where no one else could. He spent a year doing little else other than fasting and praying. For a young 24 year old full of passion and promise, to sit in a dry deserted building doing nothing but seeking God’s face, shows the integrity and character of Dave and his wife Ruth.
When Mark felt the pull of God to come to Darwin, Dave had just come off a 40 day fast, asking God specifically to bring someone to Darwin.
I remember Mark calling Dave for the first time, having got his number off a mutual friend in Brisbane. I remember him saying “Man, I have no idea why I am coming but God spoke to me.” Dave however, knew. His body knew too (Dave is skinny at the best of times let alone after a forty day fast). The rest was History.
Mark went away to Darwin and met Dave. Within weeks of his return we started to feel the pull to move to Darwin. Mark and I went away together to Yamba, a little hippy town in Northern NSW where lots of mothers don’t vaccinate, to hear God definitively. Both of us heard a yes over that weekend. We sold much of what we owned and gave the rest away. Some of our stuff we put on our front lawn and watched from our window as people came out of their houses and scurried off with their prizes. I’m not sure why that should have given us so much entertainment. But it did. In fact I’m still smiling just thinking about it. Even our rich neighbours came and helped themselves to some spoil. It was a sight to behold. You are never too rich for a freebie!
Our move to Darwin (and our word from God)
Within a few months we had packed everything leftover that we owned, which was not much, into our tiny mini van who’s name was Dudley. We headed off to Mareeba for six week stint prior to moving to Darwin. Mareeba is a small country town one hour inland from Cairns. I did some locum work at a little hospital for six weeks. Mark was planning to spend the six weeks seeking Jesus about a blue print of His plans for what was in store for us in Darwin.
We were believing for a download straight from Holy Spirit of the way in which he wanted to “Take over the Territory.”
Ahhh such youthful passion. Every day my beautiful husband would dedicate himself to prayer while I would tottle of to work at the hospital. Our expectations were high! Surely God was about to take him away on an open vision where he would encounter the Lord and he would receive a great download of his plans for us over the next season in Darwin. After all we had packed up our entire lives and left all our family and friends because we had heard his voice.
Expectantly we waited. Week after week.
Every day I would come home expectantly. Everyday there would not be any further clarity. While we communed with God and had an absolute blast together. We had absolutely no insight. No further direction. No exciting download from Jesus.
Finally, I came home one day from my tiny little two ward hospital at Mareeba and Mark told me he had direction from God. I was beyond excited. This is what we had been waiting for. Drawing up a chair I waited for what was sure to be an elaborate plan from the heavens themselves. I was ready for the great download. Mark wasted no time.
“I feel like God wants us to lay down our lives for Dave and Ruth.”
That was it. That was why God was calling us to Darwin.
In hindsight I can reflect that this was actually 100 percent true. It was the foundation of our calling to Darwin. And for three years. That is exactly what we did, the best we knew how I know now what God was doing.
He was calling us to lay our lives down.
He was calling us to learn how to build relationship.
Dave had fasted for revival and God had sent him a friend.
Imagine if one perhaps leads to the other when stewarded well?
Smoke and Mirrors
In Darwin, we built the deepest wells of friendship with Dave and Ruth. Mark and Dave especially built a supernatural relationship where their hearts collided. They created a bond which will last them a lifetime. The four of us learned the joy and the love that abound when you can have a ministry from relationship. We learned together that above all, relationships matter the most.
We learned that at the end of the day people are our destiny. If we don’t have that everything is just smoke and mirrors
Having discovered in Darwin a taste of what it looks like to have this kind of deep wells of friendship. Having seen it modelled in my husband with his friendship with Dave, I am so eager to pursue it in my life.
While in Darwin I was starting to learn how to open my heart and let people in. However I let the business of life, the intensity of work and study and in some ways my own insecurities create barriers for me. These barriers prevented me from experiencing the true manifestation of deep wells of friendship which were available to me.
A wise man once said, “It is easier to pour yourself out for the masses, than to bear your soul to one person.”
I think for me this resonates so well. I find sometimes in all my “doing” I haven’t learned how to just be, and let myself be loved. Let myself be transparent. Learn how to cultivate a deep intimate relationship. To get to a point where my soul is knit together beautifully with someone else beyond my husband.
I certainly want to try.
Come continue on this journey with me.
I think it will change our lives.
Until next time,
You are deeply loved and richly cherished,
The Healthy Hiccup