What Makes a Friend a Friend?

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Losing a Close Friend Is Not Easy

A few weeks ago I had been inspired to write on God’s faithful love to pursue us no matter what we do or wherever we go. But life happened, as they say, and now I must write from a new perspective.

“This” happened: We lost a very close friend–sooner than we thought we would. At our mature ages, loss happens more often than we’d like. I have found we must hold close what we have while we have it, yet freely release our loved ones into God’s hands when it’s time. This is not profound, but it can be forgotten in our hectic daily responsibilities. So simple. So true. Yet so often forgotten.

Loss can happen anytime, but sometimes it catches us by surprise. Even when we expect someone may beat us to Heaven, the loss for our day-to-day living remains. It can hurt even when we know our dear one is rejoicing, healed and whole, in Heaven.

Acquaintances come and go in our lives, but friends are different. I believe most people realize how friendships enrich our lives. I pray you have had the joy of knowing at least one true friendship in your lifetime and maybe many more.

Yet we are mortal, and we don’t always have the privilege of living all of our days with a dear friend, who sticks “closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 promises our true friends do not leave us, even in difficult times. This kind of friendship comes with a commitment and an agape love — higher than human friendship based on common interests. Also, in Proverbs 17:17, we read how a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. The only way this can be true is when the relationship is Christ-centered, not based on a common interest. Why? Our interests and desires will change over time and then friends often drift apart.

What exactly is a friend? I’ve pondered my friendships as I look back over the years. Some elements remain the same. When I was little, I played and laughed and sometimes even cried with my best friends. When I became a teenager, I also played and laughed and sometimes cried with my friends. Oh, yes, we did experience emotional bonding in those days.

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As a mature adult, my friends share more in common with me than how well we “play” together. Sometimes that means we have common interests or hobbies, but that is not the glue that binds us. The truest of my friends and I share a similar worldview. That also means our motives are similar, which tends to drive our choices in life.

A true friend will love in all situations, even if it means having that difficult talk–the “speaking the truth in love” talk (Ephesians 4:15)–perhaps the you-have-strayed-from-God’s-path-talk. Even when we don’t share the same joys and interests, we hold fast to even more vital, eternal perspectives. When the love of God is a part of this friend equation, then we can experience true Christian fellowship, even in adversity.

Our dear friend, Wayne Parrish, was an overall “good person,” but that’s not why we were friends. He was not perfect, any more than the rest of us. However, we had the privilege of sharing life from its highs to its lows, from the most enjoyable times to the direst of circumstances. We shared our faith in Christ, which was the glue that held our friendship together. We laughed, we loved, we respected one another. His passing will leave an empty place in our lives. Thank God we have memories of all the times we shared, and a present joy for his eternal reward in Heaven. I have no doubt he is worshipping his Lord and Savior now and is fully healed with a heavenly body. I can’t wait to join him one day. What a grand reunion it will be.

If we can learn anything from this little post, it would be to never take a single day for granted. Cherish life, serve those God puts in our paths, and never miss the opportunity to tell someone you love them.

May the Lord bless you week ahead, and show you who He has given you to cherish daily.

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