I lay in my hospital bed not wanting to answer the phone. My entire family and (seemingly) all my friends had gone to the first college football game of the year to watch my daughter play in the marching band.
Slowly I reached over to my bedside table and picked up the phone. "Hello?"
It was my good friend and tailgate buddy, Brenda. "How're you doing?"
"Pretty lonesome," I said.
"Well, just listen."
The sounds of the Tiger Band came through the telephone straight to my hospital room. Brenda made sure that I wasn't going to miss the pre-game show after all.
Brenda's phone call didn't take a lot of time, money, or effort on her part. But her thoughtful deed changed my day, my week—and even now my heart warms when I remember how much it meant to me. She invested a small act that paid big dividends.
Relationships are important, even with those who aren't our friends yet. They're a gift and a responsibility from God. We're called to invest in, encourage, and build others up. In Acts 13:15 Paul reminds us, "If you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it."
Being a good steward of our relationships, making the effort to grow them—both with friends and family and with strangers—sometimes requires sacrifice and a willingness to give whatever it takes. It also means being available to listen to the Holy Spirit's nudge as he directs us in how best to invest in our relationships.
Recently while I was out to eat, my waitress noticed on my keychain a milkshake-shaped card from a fast food restaurant that allowed me to get a free milkshake every day for two months.
"Wow, that's a neat looking card," she said. "My son loves their milkshakes. When I can afford it, I take him there to get a treat."
As the meal progressed, I felt I should give that card to her. So before I left, I handed it to her.
"This is for your son," I said. "Tell him it's from someone he doesn't even know who loves him."
She beamed. "I'll do that."
I left knowing I'd done the right thing in that relationship. I'd listened to the Holy Spirit's whisper.
Ultimately, the strength of all our relationships depends on the strength of our relationship with God, the foundation from which all our other relationships flow. If we don't have a good "connection" with the Father, how will we hear him when he whispers?