Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house. Job 29:4 NIV
My friends numbered few.
Dad began preaching when I was just a young fellow. Snippets of him driving an ice cream truck like his father and of him working in a Western Auto store are the only earlier memories I have. And with the preaching came moving. Dad was a restless sort. Twenty years was his longest tenure, and by the time he did that, I had left home long before. When I lived with him and Mom, he moved every two or three years, sometimes after only one year.
Making friends amidst the transitions proved difficult. So did remembering teachers and schools. Both have blurred into that part of my memory I can no longer access. From kindergarten to eighth grade, I remember only a handful of friends. From high school, another handful. None of which have I kept up with through the years.
Nor did college differ—and I suppose that is my fault. I recall a few friends from those four years, none of which I’ve contacted since graduation. My resilience against making friends while growing up tainted my adult life. After all, I followed in dear old Dad’s footsteps and moved around a good bit myself.
Only one almost life-long friend comes to mind. He and I met shortly after graduating high school when we went to work at the same metal fabrication plant. We were the same age and seemed to hit it off immediately. Although the miles have separated us since then—and our career paths have taken us in different directions—we remain in contact. I’ve made many other friends and casual acquaintances during my lifetime, but his friendship I hold the dearest.
Friendship is touchy business. Job discovered this when hard times hit him and his family. Several of his friends showed up to comfort him—but turned out to be miserable comforters. The only advice they could give was that he should repent of whatever sin he had committed that was causing his misery. They talked too much—and listened too little. He ignored their advice and went on with life. Although they told him God brought his misery, Job didn’t believe it. He chose to relish in his intimate friendship with God.
Fair-weather friends are usually a dime a dozen, but true friends encourage more than they rebuke, listen more than they talk, are heavy on presence and light on advice, and don’t pretend to understand all the emotions we face during troubling times. They hang around in the good and bad times.
But the most comforting friend is God. No other person can do for us what He can. He is the friend extraordinaire. Always there. Always ready to listen. Never too busy.
Father, thank You for being a friend who sticks closer than a brother or a sister.
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