IKnowHim Featured Story: Bethany McIlrath

Our #IKnowHim story today was submitted by Bethany McIlrath. She shares how she has experienced God in the form of friendships with others. If you have been praying for holy friendships, be encouraged by the words of her testimony and God’s goodness. Leave us a comment below so we can be praying with you! If you have ever prayed for friendship, we’d love to hear your experience in the comments as well to encourage those still seeking. 

With one semester left until I had a bachelor’s degree in hand, I donned a wedding band on my ring finger. All my friends were off to internships and first jobs hours or states away. My groom had led me to Christ a year prior. He and I were going to live in an inn and work there while my studies wrapped up.

Even with my new faith, my first “grown up” job, a marriage license, and the freedom to choose which drawer holds the silverware, I felt like a freshman all over again.

My most fervent prayer in the turbulent time of scraping by as a young newlywed, taking 18 credits, and talking with my husband about what in the world would come next?

God, give me a friend.

Silly as it may sound, for me, everything other concern paled in comparison.

I felt ridiculous.

As I understood it, God was mighty. A provider. The rescuer. He was my Savior, my Lord, and my master. The world, my world, was full of problems and lost people and sin and so much BIG stuff. In my still-new relationship with Him, I knew I served a BIG God.

Up until that time, I’d only prayed for the “big stuff.” My plate had been full of hard-to-swallow problems. So feeling desperate for a friend didn’t seem like something a Christian girl (or God!) should care about.

But for as BIG as God is, He really cares about the small things too.

Scripture doesn’t just say God is with us in huge battles. Instead, He’s with us always. We’re told He doesn’t just watch us when we’re out and about, prone to sin and failure- He watches us when we sleep. God, who is everywhere all at once, also became man. He can identify with being in one place, at one time, with a tangle of emotions and temptations. Jesus even knows what it is to hang out with a friend.

As I read the Bible and adjusted to the season of life I was in, I clung to getting to know Jesus as my friend.

Jesus Himself said it: “I have called you friends” (John 15:15.)

I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for the closeness of friendship I enjoy with Christ, some of which formed through that season. However, I’m also thankful for the curly red headed gift He gave me back then.

Our friendship’s beginning was unexpected.

My husband knew my desire and my prayer. He asked me if I’d met her yet. He said her name and described her by her bright, corkscrew hair. I told him she wasn’t friend material. She was a co-worker at the inn. Plus, I’d crossed paths with her years ago. We didn’t hit it off back then (due in part to her poor taste in sweaters.) Why would we now?

When she and I interacted at work, I was polite and friendly. Co-worker pleasant. It didn’t cross my mind she might be an answer to prayer. It didn’t occur to me that God might be showing His care for my little longing. I didn’t even realize that bit by bit, I wasn’t so lonely.

I didn’t even realize we were friends.

Then one day I was reading the Bible. A minute late for my shift, I finally put it down. It was the first time I’d read Hosea and I just had to tell someone about the epic illustration of God’s unrelenting love.

She was waiting in the office to clock out. As I apologized for being late, I offered up my explanation. Feeling like a weirdo, I admitted “I was just wrapped up in Hosea.” Her eyes got huge. She exclaimed, “I totally understand!”

Taken by surprise, I leaned against the wall, replying, “It’s the craziest story!” She agreed. We went back and forth. The inn was quiet so I grabbed my Bible. We sat down and read passages and reviewed the story- and God’s love got personal.

The people whose stories are recorded in Scripture sought God for the big- and the little. God delighted to make Himself known to them in the big- and the little.

My seemingly small yearning was met with a friendship that has remained a big part of my life. And alongside that friend He gave at just the right time, I’m still getting to know God more and more.

Sometimes God answers us with just His self and His sufficiency.

But, sometimes He wants us to know that He also loves to share us. He loves introducing His friends to His other friends.

I know Him- and as I get to know Him, I find out more and more that His love for us is so personal that He actually does care about the little things.

Godly Friendships

Have you experienced God in your life? Click HERE to submit your story to be shared on the blog!

12 thoughts on “IKnowHim Featured Story: Bethany McIlrath

  1. Pingback: God's Good Gift of Friendship - First and Second Blog

  2. Karen Friday

    Enjoyed this article, Bethany. I did not know your husband led you to Christ. So sweet. These are my favorite lines, “Sometimes God answers us with just His self and His sufficiency. But, sometimes He wants us to know that He also loves to share us. He loves introducing His friends to His other friends.”

  3. Lois Flowers

    Bethany, I love this so much! I prayed very specifically for a friend once too, and God answered in an amazing way … also with a red-haired friend! I’ve often thought about writing that story … after reading this I think I just might do it. 🙂

  4. Meghan Weyerbacher

    Love your story, Bethany. It is so incredible that God cares so much about the tiny details. I was just ponering on that yesterday as I saw him answer a prayer in such a creative way, right when I needed something. He is beyond me! Keep up the good work friend.

  5. Joanne Viola

    Beautiful story, Bethany! I loved this > “He loves introducing His friends to His other friends.” Yes and Amen! He blesses us in so many ways. Grateful He crossed our paths.

  6. Diana

    I have a good friend who I love dearly, Esther. However she is my only friend (for a year or so) and she is quite busy and doesn’t have much time for me. I can share deep things with her or even just about books I’ve read cause she has no interest in books and she doesn’t really like to go deep. We are also, I feel, at different spiritual levels though I’ve tried for years to engage in Biblical things.
    So i have been praying for a friend, on and off admittedly, for a year or more.
    Thanks for your story. It’s encouraging.

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