Many years ago, Michael W. Smith wrote one of his best ever songs, ‘Friends’, which has in the ‘chorus’ the title of this blog. Powerful, poignant, true. I’m grateful to God for friends: not merely acquaintances, but people who have stood with me, loved me, cared for me, believed me AND believed in me, helped me, listened to me ‘rant’, let me cry…. The past three days over in England has been filled with people like that. Friendship, I’ve discovered – so often the hard way – can be a ‘one-way street’ – plenty of taking with very little giving, ‘friends’ until your ‘usefulness’ to someone else has run out, friends to whom you’ve given hours, weeks, months, even years – of love, care, blessing, listening – only to discover that when YOU need those ‘attributes’ from them, they’re not there.
I have always been a ‘believe the best of’ sort of person, and, up to a few years ago, there are countless people I’d have listed in my group of ‘really close friends’. I often had other people tell me that I called people ‘friends’ too quickly, but to be honest – then – I saw that as an attribute. The past few years has seen me ‘shave’ a good few people off of that list, and some, whilst still in contact or communication from time to time, out of my life.
That’s why – for me – the past few days were important. If you want to keep people you’re close to, close to you, you have to make an effort…. go and see them. OK I know, sometimes distance makes it difficult, but there’s always a way – what with brilliant web communication like Skype, FaceTime, and so on….but nothing beats just BEING with people.
On Thursday, I went to visit an long-time friend, and encourager, John, in Rustington: John’s not saved, but he loves what I do, and he loves that I don’t forget him… I had a great evening with my lovely friends Lee & Katie, who were in Cali with me, Friday I met up, and had the privilege of praying with, a long-time friend, we hadn’t met for – we estimate conservatively! – 38 years – BUT, we are in touch through Facebook. Fran is one of my greatest encouragers when it comes to telling of what Jesus does on trips to places that – until now – her MS & fibromyalgia has prevented her going to. It was lovely to catch up.
Friday afternoon, I went to see my ‘old’ friend Paul, in Brighton. We met in the late ’90’s when I bought a computer from his shop. He wasn’t a Christian, in fact, then, just the opposite, but we became friends – very good friends – and four-years after we first met, he was in Cali with me, witnessing first hand miracles, healings, and meeting people who SHOULD have been dead. As he said later, ‘When you’ve just had a meal with someone who should have been dead a year, but isn’t dead because God healed them, you can’t deny it, and it changes your life’. Having found faith in an environment of miracles, salvations, healings… you can understand that Paul found/finds British churches somewhat…er…cautious, and frustrating! We had a fantastic few hours together.
Friday evening, I was with my dear friends, Richard & Linda Williams, and their lovely son (Alex) and daughter (Jess – Jess designed my ‘airplane’ logo), it was so lovely to be with them, and stay the night in their home.
Saturday morning was my one ‘black spot’ of the weekend – a real error of judgment! – I went to ‘do’ a car boot sale, to raise some much-needed cash. To say that, after the pounding my poor old knees had taken with the medic on Wednesday, my knees suffered, from being out in the cold (I was out at 6.30 am), standing a long time negotiating economic mayhem with the punters, and lifting and carrying the stuff to sell, would be a huge understatement! I’m paying for it tonight!
BUT… knees were put aside lunchtime when I met up with other long-time friends Clive & Jan, for a lovely meal outside Worthing. Again, we haven’t ‘seen’ each other for a long time, but we do keep in contact through Facebook.
The journey home, last night, with my right knee significantly worse, was a wee bit difficult, but I’m home: and I’m so glad that I committed the time to friends, and they committed their time to me. I didn’t want anything more from them, nor they from me, than time together. That’s special.