As I write this I have a track repeating over-and-over on iTunes. It is a reminder of many things, including the fact that I was once young. 🙂
The main voice is that of Michael W. Smith, and the other is of his good friend Amy Grant. If I remember a conversation with a more recent acquaintance of mine (of all things a friend I would not have if I hadn’t lost my job in early 2011), he actually helped Michael and Amy write the tune I am repetitively listening to.
I assume between the title of this article and what I’ve already written, many (if not most) of you can guess what song is playing through my speakers…”Friends” off (originally) Michael W. Smith’s Project album.
Friendship is on my mind, and although we can always talk about how “blood is thicker than water,” the reality is that Proverbs wisely says:
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17, English Standard Version).
Of course, not all friends are equal, something the Proverbs also noted way before any of us were alive:
A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).
But Proverbs doesn’t stop there. It also observes that a true friend will not spare your feelings if you need a good slap ‘side the head:
Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy (Proverbs 27:6).
Sadly, not everyone has the opportunity to have a friend who is always there, who “sticks closer than a brother,” and who would rather risk their friendship by telling the truth than allow their friend go headlong over a cliff.
For those who don’t have any like that, I have a suggestion. There is a place where friends with these characteristics are guaranteed (if you allow them to be)…a place that breeds trustworthy friends…or, I should say, disciples them. That’s because it was founded upon a cornerstone of the ultimate Friend:
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:13-15).
And speaking of friends, one of mine who passed away toward the end of 2010, Graham Maxwell, said something like, “It’s a law of nature that we become like the person we worship and admire.” (That may be an exact quote…I am not sure.) Graham had it right, and if you need a trustworthy friend, then go to the place filled with people who worship and admire the only truly trustworthy Friend, Jesus Christ, who is:
- A Friend who loves at all times
- A Friend who sticks closer to you than a brother
- A Friend who will not let you go headlong over a cliff
- A Friend who laid down His life for His friends
Since the day I first started attending the Antrim Church of Christ, I have been blesses with true friends…but that should be no surprise…because you have become like the one you worship and admire. You opened your arms and hearts to me (and my family), and I’ve become a better man for it.
The reason Michael W. Smith’s song reminds me I was once young is because it was really written about friends who are separating due to milestones that happen earlier in life. I imagine, for instance, going away to college, a first post-university job at great distance, and so on. However, the words are no less meaningful for those of us who have lived more than half their allotted years here on earth. It begins:
Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
Can’t believe the hopes He’s granted
Means a chapter in your life is through
But we’ll keep you close as always
It won’t even seem you’ve gone
‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong
And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends
It’s hard to thank God for my new job, because it tears me away from all of you, my friends. However, I can thank (and praise) Him for the years He did bless me with your friendship. I may curse the pain of separation, but a temporary blessing is better than no blessing.
And, as Michael, Amy, and my co-writing friend Gary have told us, friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them.
He’s your Lord. He’s my Lord. We will be friends forever.
And with Skype, e-mail, text messages, and airplanes we have no excuse…lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.