We spent last week near Vail, Colo., with another couple. The mountains were ablaze with golden Aspen, a great place for reflection in our “golden” years. We were young when we first met. My wife and the other two were fresh from high school graduations in Texas and Kentucky. I was older and wiser by two years.
After we married, we gathered in each other’s apartments as penniless newlyweds and played games, affordable and unforgettable entertainment. Our paths parted when we started our families. Identical twin girls for them, three children stretched over 13 years for us. We stayed in touch at a distance.
Fifty years later, our children are grown. They are advancing in their careers and raising our grandchildren. We have completed most of our journey, in good health and full of memories, hoping to remain useful and finish well.
We are thrilled to make new friends for whom we are grateful, but we shared our youth with these friends when we were trying to figure out our own identity and had little idea of the direction our paths would take. We have other friends from our childhoods and our careers whom we love. Some drifted away. Some died. But this couple stuck. Nothing can reproduce the treasure we have found.
And now that we have re-converged in the late years of our journey we are overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s goodness and grace. We are more content than we were in our youth. We are still ambitious to do good and to bless others, but we know we are blessed beyond measure in ways we could have never imagined. Only God could do such a thing.
Friendship gives us a glimpse of the relationship God desires for each of us. As Proverbs says, “There is a friend that stays closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
After three years walking the hills of Galilee and Judea, Jesus explained his relationship with the 12 in these terms: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13-15).
No matter who we are or where we came from; no matter our race, gender or age, God desires to be our friend. He desires to lead us on our journey, from beginning to end. An old hymn perhaps expresses it best, “I’ve found a Friend, oh, such a Friend! He loved me ere I knew Him; He drew me with the cords of love, and thus He bound me to Him. And round my heart still closely twine, those ties which naught can sever. For I am His, and He is mine, forever and forever.”