I am a man blessed.
When I stop and count my blessings, it takes a while.
- A wife, children, and grandchildren I adore,
- Having had a deeply satisfying career,
- Being born Southern,
- Currently having reasonably good health,
- Having a golf game that’s not too embarrassing,
- A retirement filled with joy and laughter,
- Of course, most of all, a God whose grace and mercy knows no limits.
- And, lest I forget, the blessing of good friends.
It occurs to me this Thanksgiving of 2020 that I am blessed to call many people “Friend.” I am not talking about Facebook friends or mere acquaintances. I speak of those who stand by you through the good times and the bad times, who know your faults but appreciate your strengths, and who ask “how you are doing” and actually listen to your answer. Included in that number are many “Old” friends. By that, I mean they have known me for years, and yet our friendship endures. I know, I know, you would think after years of getting to know the real me, many would have lost interest. I am surprised too. And blessed.
But is there a greater compliment than for someone who has known you for decades to still call you friend?
Most people in my life, from high school to the present day, would tend to label me as a nice guy. Though some may consider such an observation a less-than-enthusiastic compliment, I don’t. True, “nice” sounds rather lukewarm, the verbal equivalent of a limp handshake. I prefer to interpret such an accolade as descriptive of a thoughtful and considerate person. However…
Truth be told, I am not always nice. I can be judgmental, arrogant, and self-serving. Fortunately for me, as a follower of Jesus Christ, I am in the process of being formed, reformed, and conformed. The Holy Spirit is in the change business, and, in my case, has a lot of work to do — turning judgment into discernment, arrogance into humility, and self-serving into service to others. Such qualities are good for building friendships. So are the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (See Galatians 5:22-23)
Granted, these fruits have yet to fully ripen within my soul, but then, I am still a work in progress.
I recall a button I saw one time that read, “PBPGINFWMY.” When I asked the wearer of that pin what it meant, he said, “Please Be Patient God Is Not Finished With Me Yet.”
Amen to that.
To be a friend is a high calling, to have friends is a great treasure. Friendships are special and should never be taken for granted. In my February 25, 2018, post titled “Friendship is a Sheltering Tree,” I wrote:
“Life happens. We live in a world where, sooner or later, we encounter pain, suffering, and loss. It is during such times when true friendship is most needed, and the depth of it is most revealed. I will gratefully and humbly confess that I am blessed with a number of friends who are in the “2 AM call-me-if-you-need-me” category.
Aristotle once said that friendship is a slow ripening fruit. How true. Over time, it is tested and tested again. While some relationships cannot handle the tempering fires of the human jungle, others are fused under the same unrelenting heat. Their depth plumbed and veracity confirmed, such friendships last a lifetime and have value beyond measure.”
As we celebrate Thanksgiving 2020 in this COVID crazy world, I want to give thanks for the blessing of friendship. To all my friends out there, thank you for being my friend. And to all of you who have known me for years, thank you for remaining my friend, even when I am not nice. Thank you for being there when I needed you.
And thank you for accepting me as I am. I appreciate your patience. After all, I am still a work in progress; God is not finished with me yet.
“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9
Note: Photo by Aaker at Unsplash.com