Baskin and Robbins began as brothers-in-law. Holmes was looking for a roommate and Watson, an apartment; a co-acquaintance introduced them. Ben and Jerry met in a junior high gym class. George and Laura Bush met at a barbecue; she was a Democrat at the time.
You just never know!
Once we pass the stage of just smiling, waving, and discussing the weather; once we acknowledge this friendship has gone beyond mere mutual co-existence; once we begin missing someone and caring about his troubles, we slide into the third stage of friendship.
And we’d better have done our homework first.
What the ancients called ahab in Hebrew and hoi soi in Greek is that comfortable belovedness that we call familiar friendship. It’s that willing leaning into the yoke together, a certain smiling oneness that tells us “we like this.” Examples appear in Esther 5:10 and Mark 5:19.
It’s time for caution.
Friends come and go, but it’s a good idea to hang on to your soul, to make sure someone doesn’t carry off your personality while you’re not looking.
Some friendships are simply dangerous and the deeper we trust someone, the more it is imperative they be trustworthy. Therefore, the closer we draw to anyone, the more appropriate and vital our conversations become. Certain things must be discussed. As we work, play, eat, and rest with a friend, we who care must constantly ask, bit by bit, constantly seek that open door to deeper understanding of each other.
I know, some folks never talk about politics and religion, but really, how can we ever grow closer without that? Life goals, ideologies, and other matters about which we are logically careful, must be open to those with whom we are open. When we allow others to influence the fragile matrix of the core of our being, we must know where we stand, where the lines are drawn.
And yet . . .
What a glorious opportunity presents itself when we share openly with someone who has long desired a way to heal, a way to stand more firmly! Questions again become the food and drink of friendship and we find that if we can be strong, we can hold out a hand to the weak, extend a lifeline to the perishing. Our very presence can signal the hope like a lighthouse in a storm. Lives can spring back to life and new light can thunder in to glorious dawning.
An older man we know has befriended a young man for ages, taking him to public events, connecting at lunch occasionally, sometimes fishing with him. The young man’s marriage recently went through a severe test, but he is learning how to come out of this time in victory. He has drawn closer than ever to his beloved family, so opposite from what the enemy of our souls obviously wanted. Throughout this time, he has not failed to call upon the older man for prayer, advice, and simple acceptance. He is winning. He has come out on the other side, now. He has new strength. He grows daily.
All because of friendship, all from a good old comfortable friend who has touched God.
It’s what we need, what we crave; or it’s what we have, what we long to share; it’s why we aim at friendship in the first place.
Who among us has not been there.
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