One of my dearest and oldest friends came to visit us this week. He and his wife live in Memphis, and they drove over to spend the 4th of July holiday with us.
We enjoyed our time together. We talked and caught up. We laughed and laughed again. We reminisced and we prayed together. It was a real nice time.
Dennis and I have known each other since we were in Bible College together in the 70's. In fact we were roommates back then.
We have served in ministry together several times over the years, and our families have shared so many important events together.
Dennis and Ina were there for the birth of two of our children, and Lynn and I were there with them when the adoption of their son became final.
I thank God for their friendship.
There are a number of other people scattered across this country that I consider to be dear friends, and I thank God for each of them.
Each of these friendships is a treasure that I hold close to my heart.
Lee Iacocca is quoted as saying, "My father always used to say that when you die, if you've got five real friends, then you've had a great life."
I believe that I have had a great life, because I have some great friends.
Someone once said, "Good friends are like stars.... You don't always see them, but you know they are always there"
Those good friends are the ones that even though you may be separated by many miles, you know that when you get together it's as if you've never been apart.
I thank God for my friends.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only a true friend will leave footprints on your heart."
One thing I have learned over the years is that sometimes the best way to minister to people is just to be a friend. Sometimes a friend who listens; sometimes a friend who talks; sometimes a friend who shares advice; sometimes a friend who sits and shares the silence; and all the time a friend who prays.
In 1855, Joseph Scrivens, an Irish immigrant living in Canada, wrote a poem for his mother who was back home in Ireland. She missed her son and longed for his return. He wanted to assure her that she was never alone, that the Lord was always there with her. A portion of that poem goes like this:
"What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer."
John wrote in his gospel account these words of Jesus, "Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends....You are my friends.... No longer do I call you servants....but I have called you friends."
One thing that my dearest and closest friends and I have in common is our friendship with Jesus. That mutual friendship binds us together like nothing else. Jesus laid His life down for us, and that binds us together for eternity.
Roman philosopher, Marcus Tullius Cicero, made one of those simple but true statements that sticks with me, "Life is nothing without friendship."
I wish you friendship, and may you hold it close with both hands!
Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at email@example.com.