On Thursday past I conducted the memorial service for a friend since childhood. He made it to seventy three having lived for five years in a nursing home. He, like me had been a rounder in early days. I discovered that he had been led to a profession of faith in Christ by a pastor who was visiting the facility. Knowing Norman like I do I feel certain of a genuine conversion.
When his wife asked my brother if I could do the service I wept. I found out from her and a few of the children that he had spoken of me often, in a positive way, for which I am thankful. Late in the week before a pastor friend had shared with me the conversation about me at another viewing. The mentioned folks had been so nice to Joyce and me to our face. However when we had departed, we were on the menu, and we were eaten alive as they discussed our appearance.
As I prepared for Norman's service I thought of the time we as mere kids, stuck our thumb out, with two other kids and hitchhiked to California from Elkton. Thinking along this line it dawned on me that I had never known Norman to pretend to be a friend. He either liked you or he didn't. This trait has encouraged me to take his profession seriously.
And I thought, "Wouldn't it a better Church World if we who profess Christ would just stop pretending about so many things that are not true?" It is possible to look someone right in the eye and say, in a nice manner, "I really don't like you." No venom, no hypocrisy, just the simple unvarnished truth.
One of the saddest verses in the Bible is, in my opinion, Zechariah 13:6:
And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.
Thankfully truths such as this are more than overbalanced by Jesus, our friend who sticketh closer than a brother.
Marlene Dietrich stated it well when she wrote: "It is the friends that you call up at 4 AM that matter." So true, so very, very true. Think about it.