And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17, English Standard Version)
Most of my friends these days are other preachers. My two closest friends are both preachers. Paul (please pray for Paul he had surgery not long ago and could use your prayers) I often say, “Paul is my oldest friend in ministry and you can take that anyway you want.” Paul and I served on opposite ends of the same district in our first appointment. Paul was at the far west side not only of the old Bryan District, but the Texas Annual Conference. Elwood, my first appointment, was on the far eastern edge of the old Bryan District. It is about 70 miles from one church to the other.
The first revival I ever had in a church, Paul came and led the music. The preacher who I asked to preach that week had a death in his family, at the last minute, Paul stepped up and preached for me the first night.
When I graduated for seminary, Paul was serving at Groveton and I was appointed to Grapeland. It was an even shorter distance of 42 miles. Paul and Margie and Cindy and I, often with their son Ryan and our son Christopher (Wayne was a Marine by then) went out for dinner, often. There were lots of cards and domino games too.
While I was at Pleasant Retreat in Tyler Texas, Paul went to Brownsboro, a distance of probably 30 miles. Paul got me more into fishing in those days. We played quite a bit of golf (OK, what we did, to call it golf, is an insult to golfers everywhere) I also finished my doctorate degree. While I was working on a special project that turned into my dissertation, and I needed some help, Paul was right there along with another friend, Joanne. I couldn’t have done that project without their help.
Paul retired several years ago but we actually live in the same town now. It is always good to be able to spend time with Paul. He also has been present for many of the major events in the life of my family, including the funerals of both of Cindy’s parents and he sung at my father’s funeral. I am so thankful for this one of my best friends.
Jay and I met shortly before we started seminary at SMU. We served appointments that were, at most, 15 miles apart during the first two years. We road back and forth to school together every week during those first two years. We both still swear that what is said in the car while driving back and forth to seminary stays in the car.
When we graduated we had some miles between us but still talked often on the phone. We kept up with the praises and joys in our families and our churches. It wasn’t long before we were in the same district again but later I was in the Houston area and he was five hours north. My son and Jay’s two sons (one a year older than Christopher and one a year younger) because friends as well.
Through good times and bad, Jay and I have been there to support each other. We were ordained deacons together and elders together. We have gone to countless continuing education events along with Paul and our friend Chuck. When Cindy’s dad passed, again, Jay, like Paul was right there.
Even back in those early seminary days, the youth from our congregations did a lot together. We spent a week working on the house of an elderly man’s home. We added a wheelchair ramp, painted some of the house, installed screens on windows and a screen door on the front door and more. The kids went home each afternoon and got a shower and change of clothes and then we were off in the evening for some fun time.
I am thankful for my best friend Jay. He has blessed my life.
If I had written this post a few months ago, I would have had to have given you three. My third bestfriend, Mike, passed away. Mike’s first two years of seminary were my last two. When Mike started to seminary he was a Presbyterian. We told him and I was one of the loudest voices, that he was going to become Methodist. For the most part, we were joking with him but as it turned out, we were also prophetic. Before I graduated Mike was a licensed student local pastor in the United Methodist Church.
Mike was a registered nurse before he entered ministry. We spent a week during summer camp we worked together in the infirmary. I did the paperwork, Mike made sure the right med (medications kids were already part of treatment regimens or that the doctor in town prescribed for kids we took in because they were sick) went to the right kid and they took the right amount of medication. We had the best time that week. Late one evening, one of the men working at the camp came running into the infirmary. He said, “there’s a copperhead in the parking lot. Do you have a hoe we can use to kill it?” Mike, who had a quick wit said, “Sure we do, we use it on the children all the time. Why would we have a hoe in the infirmary?”
Whether a big deal or a not so big deal, Mike would be there quickly if I needed him. One day my youth director came in concerned about a skin concern on one of the youth. I knew nothing about such things but I knew someone who did. Mikes church was about 10 minutes from mine. I called and asked, “Can you come over here?” In less than 15 minutes Mike was in my office.
Later, I was going through a major personal issue. I needed someone to talk with, I called and Mike immediately came. I am forever grateful for the time I had with Mike. I miss my best friend.
We all have good friends. Most of us have best friends. I have been fortunate enough to have some of both. I am thankful for all of them. My life has been touched deeply by them all.
Be Blessed, thank God for your Best Friends, and tell them how much you appreciate them. You never know how long you have with such a good friend.
Seeking the Genuine,