The last two weeks have provided for me a wonderful opportunity to connect with longtime friends. Last week while attending a meeting in Kansas City I was able to sit in church and have lunch with my college roommate. He and I celebrate Birthdays that are two days apart. We have both promised to not tell tales on the other, not for altruistic reasons but for self-preservation. Dan was an excellent roommate. He has been a friend for 44 years. We stay in contact and then we lose contact and then we reconnect. Whenever we get in contact with each other, we pick up where we left off, for that is how friendship works. Life, miles, ministry, and busyness have kept us from seeing each other often. Yet we stay in touch and there is nothing like a lifelong friend.
Let me list some of the advantages of old friends:
- You can be yourself, they already know you. To quote Emerson “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”
- A family like closeness. As some have said friends are the siblings God never gave you. Like family, they have seen you at your best and worst and still are your friends.
- A friend is your friend because of who you are not because of what you do. “A friend is one who overlooks your failures and tolerates your success!” Often we are looking for people who can help us or assist us with whatever project we are working on at the present. Our friends are friends regardless of who we are and what we do, they accept us as we are and that brings comfort.
- Friends are a laboratory of forgiveness. If you have friends who you have known for a long time somewhere along the way they had to forgive you or at the very least overlook some things. Therefore you can be yourself and relax because your friendship has withstood many hardships and they already know you, really know you and still like being your friend.
- Friends can only be your friend and that is more than enough. A friend is unable to fix everything in your life. They can’t change what has happened in your life, they can’t reverse the bad episodes of life. All they do is remain friends. By remaining they perform one of life’s great miracles they stay your friend!
This weekend I have been preaching in Danville Illinois. In this city lives one of the first people I met my freshman year at Olivet Nazarene University. We were standing in the lunch line at Ludwig center. A conversation ensued, we discovered that we grew up fifty miles from each other. He became my best friend. I stayed overnight at his house and became close with his entire family. Again life and circumstances have caused us to have long periods of separation and yet I feel very close to him. His life as yours and mine has been filled with pain and disappointment and loss and yet today remains a great friend.
As I have matured with age I have come to understand and appreciate the true value of friendship. I have lived enough life to see that some people come and go and others were only ‘seasonal’ friends. True friends cast long shadows over your life and are a comfort and my friends are a blessing!
Thomas Aquinas said about friendship: “There is nothing more on this earth to be prized than true friendship.” I was recently told that if you have one good friend you have more than most people. If that statement is true then I have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to friends. Today I celebrate and honor Dan Danner and LaMar Hull two men who have been my friends for 44 years! They have seen me up close and know my warts and failures and to this day claim me as their friend. I have been blessed their friendship!