Monday, December 3, 2007

FRIENDS

A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.

Walter Winchell

It would seem to me that the term friend has become diluted over the years, in meaning, like a lot of other things I suppose. The last couple of weeks I have been wrestling with the values of friendship. When I was growing up there was a time of my my life that I was placed under my Grandmothers care for a few years. One time in relating something that had happened, I had mentioned someone was my friend. My Grandmother started asking me questions, none of which I could really answer, she then informed me that friends knew friends very well, people who knew each other in passing were acquaintances. Friend was a term reserved for one who stood by you through thick and thin, who was prepared to tell you the truth, and who cared about you regardless of that truth, and if you were a real friend you applied the same principles in return.

A couple of weeks ago I heard that an old friend of mine had died, he wasn't old in age, he was old in the sense we had been friends for more than twenty years. Drifted out of contact five years ago. As a journalist first he often covered stories from hot spots, conflict areas he was more in hostile situations than out of it. He later went into conflict resolution, as a negotiator it wasn't unusual for him to be in a dangerous position, however when I had heard that he had died as a result of not having insulin with him as he was diabetic, I still don't know what shocked me more the news of his death, which was three years ago, or the fact that he was diabetic. The shock of his passing was overwhelming in that for several years I had been meaning to contact him. In thinking about him, I started thinking about other friends I have had over the years; my friends from schooldays, all of whom were killed in war situations, the guilt of why I was spared. I try to remember exactly what I knew about them, what was it that made us friends? Was that friendship ever put to the test.?

How often haven't I sung that hymn "What a friend we have in Jesus", sing the first three or four words, and it is enough to activate the memory of the words to the rest of the hymn, without thinking about it or even listening to myself. If I had to apply my Grandmothers litmus test for friendship I would fail it on all accounts. How well do I know Christ? Do I know Him well enough to call Him my friend? Often a good indication of how strong a friendship is; is how comfortable the silences are between friends. Can I really be comfortable in those periods, when I just want to sit quietly in His presence, and soak up His love? As the hymn says take it to the Lord in prayer. Everyday there are people all the world who are in danger of being killed or being condemned to death for following Christ; sitting comfortably in a country that allows me the freedom to follow religion of my choice, it is easy to be Christian; Christ died for me, would I be prepared to die for him, I can only pray that should that question ever need to be answered, I will not be found wanting, finding strength in Hebrews 13:5
"I will never leave you nor forsake you."

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