An online friend of mine was being criticized the other day for having online friends whom she'd never met, and may never meet (this side of heaven, anyway). When we got talking about it (online!), it got me thinking...
I have been so incredibly blessed by some people whom I've never met, and will probably never meet this side of eternity, through online sermons, lectures and blogs. I have also been blessed beyond words by online friendships God has placed in my life. I have friends for whom I pray, and who pray for me - and I don't just mean that we give each other a mention on our knees before God. I mean true, burdened prayer. Folks who've not experienced the kind of bond that can exist outside of the normal face-to-face meetings may wonder at how genuine, how helpful, how real such bonds can be. In many ways, I don't blame them - I'd have been rather skeptical myself, had I not been blessed with such things in my life.
My friend, the other day, was being warned by her friends that, 'you may not even like them if you met them in real life'. This made me think of my dear friend, Mr Spurgeon. You see, I am blessed by the words of this man again and again. His words are an encouragement to me. They warm my heart, make me see more of the beauty of my Saviour. They make me love Him more; hate my sin more.
But the truth is: I have never, and will never, meet him on this side of eternity. Had I been alive at the same time as he was, and had I met him 'in real life', I may not have liked him that much (I'm quite sure he wouldn't have been too 'taken' with me...), but the truth remains - through his words, whether on the page, or on the screen, he is a great source of blessing and encouragement to me.
So, the next time any of you are questioned about the possibility of online friendships being true, worthwhile or 'real', maybe you ought to think of some godly writer who 'being dead yet speaketh'. In eternity, when we do finally meet, there will be no sin, and no possibility of us not liking each other, and we will rejoice that God used the one to bless the other.
And to those of you who have been an encouragement to me over the past year or so; and to those of you who have truly become dear friends, and who are ever before me in my prayers.... even if it's God's will that we never meet here on earth, it is true that both emotionally and spiritually, y'all have been a great blessing in my life.
And if God wills it that we do get to meet here.... I do pray we like each other too ;)