Old Friends

I mentioned in a recent post that my family and I were on vacation last week. During that vacation we visited two of my oldest friends, both of whom I have known since high school. I have stayed in touch with both of these friends since my graduation, despite the fact that I did not go to the same college as either of them, and we have not resided even remotely close to each other until this past year (though I am still six hours by car from either of them). For a number of years I did not even live on the same continent as one of them!

Until last week’s visit I had not seen one of these friends for five years, and the other for eight. Much has happened over that time period! In the instance of the friend that I had not seen in eight years, my daughter was not yet one the last time we saw each other, and my friend had no children. Now I have a son, as well, and my friend has three children. As for the other friend, my son was but a few months old last time we met, and my friend was not only not married, but was not even seeing anyone (as far as I know…). Now that friend is married and has a child.

Technology has its flaws, but it is a wonderful thing in many ways, too–not least of which is the way in which it has simplified keeping in touch with others. See, even though I had not seen my friends in years, we have exchanged scores of e-mails over those years, not to mention Facebook messages, birthday and Christmas cards (and yes, even the occasional pen-and-paper letter!). Though we have not been physically close, these two friends have known more about my life than many people I have had much closer proximity to during that same period. I can share any need or struggle with either friend, and I know that both of them will pray for the situation and, when appropriate, offer advice or encouragement.

The Bible talks in many passages about friends, but perhaps the verse that comes to mind immediately is Proverbs 17:17, that says, “A friend loves at all times….” I can say that is true for both of the friends I visited last week.

I am also reminded of the words of a gospel song entitled, “Old Friends.” It is a short, whimsical little tune, but it includes some poignant words, among which are these: “old friends, what a find, what a priceless treasure, old friends, like a rare piece of gold…” and these: “Now God must have known, there’d be days on our own, we would lose the will to go on, that’s why he sent, friends like you along,” and, finally, these: “Old friends, you’ve always been there….”

Scripture says that Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother, and I am surely thankful for Him. No human friendship can ever compare to the closeness and faithfulness of Jesus. Because I am human, and prone to error, I have surely failed my earthly friends, just as I have failed Jesus. There have been earthly friendships that have come and gone, some which have faded to passing acquaintances. But I am thankful for my few close friends…especially the two I was fortunate enough to spend time with last week. If you have been blessed with close friends, do not take them for granted. Thank God for them. Thank them, too…for being your friend.

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