August 24, 2019

Pastoral Nuggets: Old Friends

“Most of the time, a kid doesn’t think about what he’s doing or why.  This is the privilege of childhood.” ~ Robert Fulghum.

As I read the quote above, my mind went back a couple of weeks to a Homecoming service that I was blessed to be asked to preach at my home church.

One of my childhood friends attended the services that day. He’s one of those rare friends you have in life.

As I think back, I cannot remember not knowing him. His momma babysat me as a child. So, along with his two brothers, and a couple of other guys in the neighborhood, we grew up together.

My friend is the type of person who doesn’t mean to be funny, but he’s a riot. After the preaching services concluded, we retired to the fellowship hall to put away some good ole southern home cooking. (Ain’t nothing like a Homecoming meal at a church in the deep south!) He sat at the table with my wife and me, our youngest daughter, and her family.

He started telling everybody at the table stories about our childhood. (That is, the ones he could tell!) And by the time he was finished, all of us were crying and hurting from having laughed so much.

One of the stories he told was rather sad.  Of course, he told it in a humorous way, but in reality, it was sad.  He said, “Often, I would spend the night with Aaron on Saturday night.

Come Sunday morning, Mr. McCollough would come into the bedroom saying, “Alright boy; it’s time for church, get up!” He continued, “I thought he was talking to Aaron, but I’d already seen him whup Aaron, so I wasn’t taking any chances!  I hurried-up and got ready for church!” Then he paused for a moment and said, “If it hadn’t been for Aaron’s daddy, I wouldn’t have known what church was about. As a child, those were the only times I got to attend church.”

As we grew up, my friend and I, along with his brothers and the other neighborhood boys, traveled down many roads and many paths together for which we are not proud.

There are many things of which we do not speak. Those memories are forever woven into the mutual DNA we share as friends. Years ago, he settled things with Jesus. Today, he is a fine upstanding Christian man. And I think the world of him!

As I begin to circle the wagons regarding this column today, I want to go back to Robert Fulghum’s quote, “Most of the time, a kid doesn’t think about what he’s doing or why. This is the privilege of childhood.”

However, I want to change it a little. It would great if that quote read something like this, “Most of the time, when a friend is with another friend, he doesn’t think about what he’s doing or why. This is the privilege of friendship.” Wow! Friends like that are precious and few! I’m talking about friends that know the absolute worst thing there is to know about you, but chooses to love you anyway. They afford you the opportunity to let your defenses down, be vulnerable, and be yourself without fear of betrayal.

With age comes some measure of wisdom.

As I have walked through this thing called life, I have discovered that I have many acquaintances, but few friends.

I once heard an old man say, “Son, when you get to the end of your life and look back, if you can count on one hand the number of true friends you made along the way, you will of all men be most blessed.” I thought he was crazy. Turns out he was right.

A couple of weeks ago, if just for a fleeting moment in time, I was reminded of the value and absolute joy of old friends!

Proverbs 18:24(KJV) A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

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