Most of us are friends, with at least a few people, often with many. Probably we have different kinds of friends, some more casual and passing than others.
It's those others I've been thinking of, this north country night by our lake in New Hampshire. A sprinkling afternoon has turned into a drizzling evening. Molly is at the dining room table, challenging her mind with Solitaire, after serving us a delicious supper. I sit in the living room, facing the fireplace, after an afternoon paddle up the river in a light rain, spying flowers, and ducks.
I wrote a short letter to a friend we will see this weekend after a year of her travels. She has become very dear to both Molly and me. She is part of our church in Center Ossipee. Once, after Molly and I had preached and told about our work of forgiveness, she sought us out, her eyes sparkling and tearful. "I know just what you mean," she said. "I learned about forgiveness through my painful divorce, and trying to find a peace we would both hold onto in loving our sons, yet no longer able to live with each other. It came as a gift from God."
She has been true to that over many years. We have never lived near by. But God called her into our work of reconciliation healing retreats, in which she has been freed to make her own earnest and visible witness, which has brought many African people into new insight and transforming change.
She has spoken from her heart about how hard forgiveness was. "I forgave my husband again and again, until I could really mean it," she said. She encouraged many around her.
She encouraged me. Her deep experience led her into deeper and deeper commitment to the work. Her testimony was one of the most persuasive in the years of our work together.
That is probably the key to our friendship. Her commitment to something in which we both believed.
She continues to travel with our Pilgrim Center teams in Africa. But the vision of the work, the remembering of the people healed, and the joy in our both knowing its value, gives a memory, a reminder, a sense of high and shared purpose which draws us together as friends over the miles and the years, and that friendship has become shared treasure between us.
Jesus told His disciples that He would no longer call them servants, but friends. "For I have told you everything," He said.
Their caring, their journey together, had made each of them precious to each other. The shared experience gave them a comradeship that could not be erased.
So, it goes on - both of us friends of Jesus, and He, translating that for us into a spiritual reality of faith, of memory, of work, and vision that makes us, as the hymn says, "true-hearted, whole-hearted, faithful and loyal!" What a blessing is the Christian friendship Jesus gives us, in this life. May you have many such deep and rewarding relationships in your life.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
|Arthur Rouner Ministries||
ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES
All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. . ."