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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

Jo 17It is some months since I have been able to visit my friend in the nursing home where she now lives. As I make my way to her room, I hope and pray she will recognise me. At the door, I see the nurses have just settled Joy in her special, comfortable wheelchair. She turns towards me—and her whole face lights up.

‘Oh! What a … what a … sur … oh!’

I reach out and grasp her hand, while Joy continues to look at my face in wonderment.

‘I’ll take her to the sunroom,’ a lovely nurse tells me—and soon we are settled there.

Joy continues to search my face with loving eyes. I resist the urge to tell her my name. I suspect it has slipped her mind, but it doesn’t matter—I know she knows who I am. I remind her of our book Soul Friend that I wrote about our journey together during my time at theological college, then on into ministry and writing.

‘Yes, Soul Friend,’ she says softly—and I know she remembers.

I talk to her about her family and mine. I share some little Turkish cookies I used to make often and take to her whenever we met and she remembers those too. It is a little hard for her to hold them now, as they tend to break easily. I see that the crumbs they leave on her clothes concern her a little, so I try to help her brush them off. We look at each other and laugh—a laugh that is beautiful music to my ears because it reminds me so vividly of other shared moments of joy. She has not changed—she is still the same precious person deep inside. Yes, she may now have trouble completing sentences. Yes, she may grope for the words she is trying to say. Yes, she may not remember names so easily. But she is still my lovely ‘soul friend’ Joy, out of whose face the love of God shines.

Eventually, I see she is getting tired. A nurse comes to wheel her to a lounge area and I prepare to say goodbye. I hold her hand and give her a kiss.

‘Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you—there’s nothing like a kiss!’ she says, closing her eyes in ecstasy.

‘Then I’ll give you another one!’ I tell her, dropping a light kiss on her forehead.  Her face is suffused with pure joy.

And as I hold her hand one last time, then turn to leave, I hear her familiar, beautiful words that have always felt like a blessing to me—‘Dear friend!’

As I drive away, the thought comes clearly to me that these two beautiful, little words are what God desires to speak into our hearts each day. I am not in my friend’s situation, but so often, I too become confused. So often, I let life overwhelm me. So often, I forget God. Yet each day, God reaches out to me and talks to me as with a dear friend. Each day, God is there to help me on my journey—and I am so blessed.

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5:11 New Living Translation

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There’s something very precious about finding friends who will hang in there with us through thick and thin, isn’t there? They know we have imperfections and we know they do too, but they are still our friends – and that’s the bottom line.

It’s wonderful too, isn’t it, when, after having lost touch with good friends over the years, we meet up with them again only to find they are just as warm and welcoming as they always were? It’s like we pick up the conversation where we left off all those years ago, as if we had seen them only yesterday.

Recently I was reminded of how wonderful true friendship is through three events that happened in quick succession. The first was the wedding of a girl I have known for about twenty years. Some time back, she went through a very difficult patch in her life which she would not have survived without the love and care of genuine friends around her, who went the second and third mile for her sake. While I had lost touch with her a little, these friends had not and were still standing with her and around her at her marriage ceremony, helping out with the various tasks involved with such an occasion.

The second event was a church service back at the church I attended for thirteen years and then served as one of the pastors for a further five years. Here I experienced, as always, a warm and loving welcome from the people there, and a sense that nothing had changed between us, despite nine years having passed since I was part of that fellowship.

And the third was a simple time of catching up with an old friend over coffee. This friend is about to head overseas and will be spending some time with a mutual friend of ours, so offered to take some gifts to her on my behalf. We are all at different churches now and all separated geographically, but our friendship is still as warm and as caring as it ever was.

These three recent experiences have highlighted again for me the truth of Proverbs 18:24:

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

And they also served to cause me to reflect on what sort of friend I am myself to those around me. We can get so wrapped up in our own affairs and overwhelmed with life at times that it’s easy to overlook our friends’ needs. We mean to contact them to see how they’re going or to remember their birthdays or to include them in some event in our lives, but somehow we don’t attend to it. Yet I am so aware how much even a brief email from a friend means to me and encourages me in my rather lone writer’s life. Paul’s words in Philippians 2: 4 are always a challenge to me in this regard:

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Paul goes on to remind us that our attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ, who ‘made himself nothing’ and gave his very life for us to bring us back to God. What a friend we have in Jesus, as the old hymn says! And Jesus calls us his friends too, as we follow him and listen to him and do what he commands (John 15:14).

Now there’s a friendship that makes all the difference, don’t you agree?

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