And friends are friends forever If the Lord's the lord of them And a friend will not say never cause the welcome will not end Though its hard to let you go In the Father's hands we know That a lifetime's not too long to live as friends.
- Michael W. Smith
This past weekend my bride and I traveled 200 miles north, and almost a decade back in time to reunite with some friends that I hadn't seen in many years.
I have known Jim and Anne for around 22 years. Their kids babysat mine, and we were so close that we had them in our will as caretakers for our children in case anything happened to their mom and me. We shared many meals, adventures, vacations, laughter and tears.
A job change for Jim took he and Anne to a large metro area. A divorce for me led us in different directions. Staying in touch with distant friends takes effort, and the emotional duress of a broken marriage left me little energy to try to keep communication lines open.
Then as life often does, days turn into years, and one day I realized that embarrassment of a failed marriage and from failing to keep in touch were poor excuses to miss great friends.
I no longer had contact information for my friends, but I did a little internet sleuthing and found Jim's new place of employment (he had moved to a different job in the same city as the one that drew him away from the Austin area). Even after making the initial contact with Jim, it took nearly a year before I initiated a visit.
As my bride and I traveled up to visit Saturday morning, I had to admit to her that I was anxious. It wasn't that I thought we wouldn't be welcome. My fear was that I might discover that time had changed us all to the point that the only things we had in common were things of the past. Perhaps I would find out that our friendship could live only in my memory, like the old farmhouse that once stood on my grandparent's farm.
Like many fears, mine were unfounded. Jim and Anne welcomed us into their home. My bride had not officially met them, so it was their first opportunity to get to know her. Once the introductions were made, it seemed as if we had seen each other last week, not a decade ago.
We caught one another up on parents, children and grandchildren. We shared meals, adventures, laughter and tears, and made plans for hill country vacations together. We laughed until our faces cramped and sides ached. We worshiped together, killed a baby-bird eating snake (that story another time), and sat in the front yard under the trees. I dreaded the eventual goodbye, as the relentless pull of time began to drag us back to the workaday world. All too soon our visit was over.
I am sorry I lost touch with my friends...but fortunately for me...friends are friends forever if the Lord's the lord of them...