How Would You React If You Meet A Friend After 30 Years?
Yesterday my wife and I met one of our friends after 30 years!
How would you react if you meet a friend after 30 years?
Yesterday, a friend came to see us after 30 years. We never had any contact since our last goodbye; not even on Facebook. Our friendship had developed when I first met him in 1989. He brought a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) team from India to a rural church in west Nepal where I was serving. Immediately we bonded so very well. Later while we were starting Hope Church in Kathmandu, he visited us again. After that he was transferred to somewhere else and we lost touch. In those days, we had no idea what email was!
Then one day, after 30 years, he heard about us in a pastors meeting he attended and got our number, gave us a call, and yesterday he personally came to see us in our place, spent the whole day talking about the good old days. Even meeting him after 30 years; it was so amazing to see how his attitude of friendship towards us had not changed a bit. He is a very successful man in many fronts now, but his genuine heart and a guilelessness was so refreshing for us in a time like this.
I have met other friends, (who I thought were my friends) after many years. But often time I was disappointed by the change of attitude and atmosphere in meeting them. I understand it is natural that time takes its toll in friendship if not mutually nurtured. But to find a friend so faithful over the years even though there was no communication whatsoever was so very edifying.
As far as it depends on me, I am a social creature. I like friendship. But yesterday, this friend taught me that I must watch out in my heart for any erosion of friendship with those I have met over the years.
I have seen pastors, missionaries and even my own classmates abandoning their friendship with others when their selfish interest was not fulfilled. Just like Proverbs 14:20 says; “The poor are disliked even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends” (NRSV), people in this world value friendship so long as it fulfills their agenda. In fact, such a friendship is detrimental for our growth, but “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (18:24)!
The first Christian book I ever read was “Friend of All”; a gospel booklet that presented Jesus as the friend of sinners from the gospel of Luke. Then, I read John 15:14–15 where Jesus said “you are my friends.” The first Christian hymn I heard and brought uncontrollable tears to my eyes was “What a friend we have in Jesus”! Ever since Jesus came into my life as a friend; life has been a wonderful journey!
As a pastor, and over the years, I have had the privilege of meeting so many children of God. Some are doing well (at least looks like that from the outside), and others are struggling in one form or the other. Every time I see them struggle, my heart aches because lately I have myself struggled in some ways.
Yet, in my struggles, I am experiencing a new level of friendship with Jesus. Out of this friendship, I have learned to hang on to an Orthodox monk’s prayer line that says; “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy On Me, A Sinner!” I found a 2 hour long YouTube video of this one line prayer (set in music) which I put on during time of my meditation. It is very comforting to know that Jesus Christ the Son of God is ever ready to show us his mercy when we kneel before him in humility.
In fact, this prayer was taught by Jesus himself in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:13. The reason Jesus told this parable was to show the futility of trusting in our own righteousness; “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable” (18:9). Having accepted the prayer of the Tax Collector, Jesus proved his friendship with the sinners!
Facebook did bring me in touch with some of my best friends of the times gone by. But in meeting them, it was very obvious that I wasn’t their friend anymore. They had become way more important to consider me as their friends. Some had become rich, some had become successful pastors and leaders in their denominations, and others had settled in some western nations. For people of South Asian origin, settle in western nation itself is considered a huge success regardless of the kind of life they live in those nations!
How about you? How would you react when you meet your best friends from the past who might not be up to your material standards?
On the other hand, I have also met other friends who have gone a long distance to reconnect the kindred spirit we had in our younger days. I have also made so many new friends who have stood with me in my good times and bad. I am who I am today because of many wonderful friends that the Lord has brought in my way. But most of all, what a friend we have in Jesus!!
It is my prayer that the friends I have made over the years in my life will also come to know Jesus as their real friend who stands by them in their struggle; who will never leave them even when all their worldly friends ignore them. It is my prayer for you who have stood with me in my time of struggle that Jesus will hold you tight in his embrace even as you face your own kinds of struggle.
It is my prayer that we all will be mindful of what Jesus has done for us so that we will also be mindful of our friends and fellow human beings who might need our words of kindness instead of words of judgement, and a listening ear instead of a wagging finger.
Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners. May we also be accused of being a good friend to those who need one!