So many different thoughts and emotions raced through me as I studied our lady of influence of the week. For example, when I hear the name “Priscilla” I immediately think of my beautiful mother; also a passionate follower of Christ, who shares the same name, more affectionately known as “Prissy.” (I love you, mom!) Then the incredible unity we see between Priscilla and Aquila, as if they’re perfectly balanced and in sync with each other. Something I pray my own marriage will reflect so clearly to others observing. Of course her fierce boldness, confidence and devotion to the gospel also pricked my interest as well. BUT what was screaming to me the loudest, what moved my spirit to tears…was covenant friendship.
I have chills as I write this (or Godbumps, as my mom would say), as this is a subject that ministers to me deeply and in fact is the very tool God has used to mold me into the person I am now. This was one of the few times I’ve actually wept as I read the scriptures. Because in all the incredible things we see in these accounts of Priscilla and her husband in their ministry with Paul, I clearly see the Lord giving us a picture of what covenant friendship looks like. It’s one of few that we have to refer to in scripture, and honestly, one I had overlooked until now.
I’ve had many friends in my life, all different kinds, including the ones who really wouldn’t be defined as such in Webster’s Dictionary. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve come to understand what “Covenant friendship” really is. And God, in His infinite wisdom, somehow saw fit to give me several, and I couldn’t cherish them more. I see how intentional God was in weaving these friendships together in my life, with the sole purpose for us to support, love, encourage and pray for one another. To say I hurt when they hurt and visa versa is an understatement. These amazing women have imprinted on my heart to such immeasurable depth, I literally can’t imagine my life without them. The thought of it paralyzes my spirit and leaves an unyielding ache in my chest.
I felt that ache as I read of Paul’s friendship with this precious couple. Indeed, I wonder how different the church would look had Paul not had the unrelenting support and encouragement of Priscilla and her husband. We read of how they traveled with him all over, preaching the gospel together. The Word tells us that they risked their own necks for him, meaning they were literally nearly executed by axe! They were the very embodiment of John 15:13 “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for their friends.” And in the end, it is they he gives a personal and affectionate farewell to as he faces his certain death.
I imagine what emotions Paul must’ve been feeling as he wrote his final ‘goodbye’ to his dear friends, and what unspoken message he penned on the page for only their hearts to interpret as they read them. I imagine Priscilla and Aquila grieving their long cherished friend as his words scrolled along the parchment. Maybe her tears staining the paper as she read, knowing that certainly by now Paul had breathed his last. The image of their grief that undoubtedly took place in that moment brings me to tears again.
The scriptures don’t mention much of Paul’s biological family, but they do mention a family of equal importance; his spiritual family, his covenant friends. I pray that every person has the opportunity to experience at least one covenant friendship, as well as BE the covenant friend. This is the kind of friend I strive to be. We’re not meant to do this life alone. We’re better together.
~ Heather Whidden