As I walked down the sidewalk on that dark, damp night, the wet coldness cut through my clothes, giving me a chill to the bone.

An occasional person hurried past me without even a glance.

The street lights were few and far between, mostly lighting up the sidewalk and revealing the silhouettes of those seemingly lifeless buildings that only showed an occasional dim light from their inner recesses.

After walking a few blocks, I approached a building that looked much different from the others because of the amount of light that it poured forth onto the sidewalk and street in front of it.

When I got to the building, I peered through a window and saw quite a number of people. A few of them were walking from one place to another, but most of them were sitting at tables.

At first glance, the people seemed friendly – many with warm smiles on their faces.

At the back of the room, there was a large hearth with a splendid fire. By now, I was quite chilled, and also a bit hungry. I knew the hearth would do well in warming my body, and I thought maybe I could even get a bite to eat. So, I decided to venture inside.

As I pulled open the door, I noticed many coats hung up in a fair sized room in front of me, and to my right was the large room that I had seen from the sidewalk.

I was surprised that there was not a registration desk or a sign that said, “Please Seat Yourself.”

I was not sure if I could trust the people, so instead of hanging up my coat, I only unzipped it to allow the warm air in. I then started walking slowly toward the large hearth, knowing that the air would be even warmer there.

In front of the hearth was a large table where most of the people had gathered. It looked as if people had taken empty chairs from adjacent tables in order to be part of this larger group.

Before I could make my way around the table to get closer to the hearth, I saw a man stand up from the far side of the table. He looked at me, and then proceeded to walk around the table toward me. I stopped to see if he was going to say something to me. I was hoping he was not going to ask me to leave. To my relief, he warmly greeted me, identified himself as Jesus, and asked if I would like to join him and the others at the table – indicating that the empty chair in front of me was mine to use if I so desired.

What struck me about Jesus’ invitation was that I felt completely free to accept or reject his offer. As I later reflected upon his invitation, it eventually dawned on me that part of the freedom I felt was the lack of pressure, manipulation, or control that often had accompanied invitations that others had given me in the past. And I did not feel in any way that Jesus was subtly trying to make me feel bad about myself if I had decided to decline his offer.

*** This story is continued in the next chapter. ***

Wow! What a tremendous privilege! Can you imagine being invited by Jesus to join Him at His table? How would you feel about such an offer?

I would count it a privilege to be invited to join the table of a president or head of a nation. But how much greater a privilege to be invited by Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God and the Creator of the universe! The One to whom I owe my very existence! The One whose greatness no one can fathom! The One who is so great that He has to stoop down to just look upon the earth, let alone interact with those on the earth... and yet He does so in His perfect love for us! (See John 1:1-3, Psalm 145:3,113:4-6.)

Just to sit at His table would be amazing, let alone be a fellow participant with Him and those with Him!

Similar to this metaphorical story, in real life Jesus literally invites you and me to join Him in a wonderful friendship, where Jesus will help us to grow toward deeper friendships with Him and others as well!

I realize that only God can truly grow us toward these deeper friendships. I therefore encourage you before reading on, to first ask God to teach you and cause things to stand out to your heart, so that He can uniquely tailor this book to you as part of His very best for your life.

I want to be a true friend to you as I write this book. So, I do not want to impose upon you, or teach at you. Instead, I plan to just share my heart with you as if we were sitting in the same room together. And I welcome you to take those things that seem to touch your heart and resonate with the core of your being. I have already “road tested” many of the concepts in this book by sharing them verbally with a number of people. It has been very exciting seeing how God has worked through this material to help those people toward deeper friendships with Him and others!

This book starts the journey toward deeper friendships which is then continued in a book I wrote at an earlier date titled, At His Feet.

At His Feet has many practical insights in how to learn from God and grow in deeper friendship with God. Both of these are keys to our being able to grow in friendship with each other.

One of the points I share in At His Feet in a section titled, “How to grow in friendship with God,” is how I have found it helpful in my friendship with God to focus on Jesus, since He is God and my personal point of contact with an infinite God. So in this book, I will refer to God mostly by the term Jesus – especially when I am speaking in regard to friendship topics. In saying this, I am not speaking against someone who finds it easier to relate to God as “God” or as the “Father” or even as the “Holy Spirit”, since I am happy for them if their life with God works well with any of these focuses. I am only saying that focusing on Jesus works better for me, and therefore it will be easier for me to share from this perspective.

My desire is that Jesus will work through the words of this book to help each of us to grow toward deeper friendships with Him and each other. I hope you are encouraged and find some freeing thoughts that are helpful to you in your journey with Him.

* Note: In the story that starts this introduction and continues in the next chapter, I used lower case “h” when referring to Jesus as him, his, he, etc. But, in the rest of the book I will use an upper case “H”, since He is God and I like to denote this distinction in this way. In the story, the narrator does not yet know who Jesus truly is, so the narrator would naturally write about Jesus with the lower case “h”.