An Old Friend
by Mark Miller
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It seems like I’m always busy going somewhere, or doing something for the Lord. There’s always someone to feed, or counsel, or comfort. Lately I’ve been so busy that I haven’t taken much time to talk to Him, but I carry this little wooden cross in my pocket wherever I go to remind me why I do what I do.
I was running errands the other day, and walked past a place I used to frequent. I looked in the window and saw an old friend that I used to visit there. Seeing her surprised me enough to make me pause for a moment. She was sitting by herself, staring at her glass as though she were lost in thought. Suddenly, as if she knew I would be there, she looked up, flashed a big smile and waved. She gestured for me to join her, but I had things to do. So, I just smiled and waved back, shook my head and continued walking down the street.
For the rest of the day I kept thinking about my old friend. I thought about the good times we shared, and how comfortable I felt with her. I couldn’t seem to remember why it had been so long since we last visited.
The next day, I was passing by the same place. I stopped to look in the window and saw her again; sitting at the same table we used to share. She flashed the same old smile, with the twinkle in her eye I used to love, and then waved for me to join her. I glanced away down the street for a moment, and then looked at my Timex. I thought to myself “I have so much to do, but I’m running ragged. I’m so tired of working all the time. I could use a little break. Everyone else can wait a minute. I need a little “me” time. It won’t hurt anything.” So I walked in the door and over to the table. She stood as I approached and gave me a big hug. It felt so comfortable, just like I remembered. Why did I let her go? We exchanged “it’s good to see you” and “it’s been a long time.”
“Have a seat,” she said. “Can I get you something?”
“No, I don’t have the time. I saw you, and it’s been so long, I just had to take a minute and say hi.”
She looked disappointed, but said “I understand.” After pausing a moment she smiled again and said “I still come here all the time. Maybe next time we can visit for a while.”
“I think that would be nice.”
“Me, too,” I looked at my watch. “Well, I have to go. I’ll see you.”
“I hope so. I miss you.”
As I walked out the door she sat back down. A quick wave as we exchanged another glance through the window, then I was on my way to feed more people, or counsel those struggling, or comfort the hurting. That night as I lay in bed, I was feeling so tired and worn. I said “Lord, I just need some rest. I need a break.”
I arose the next morning feeling more tired than when I went to bed. Looking at my schedule made me feel even more exhausted. “Lord, I don’t think I can get through another day.” But I got dressed anyway, and went about my business just feeling numb, not really caring about the people I help. All I could think of was how “good” I looked while I worked so hard.
I soon found myself at the same old place with the same old friend. This time I decided to stay awhile. We laughed about old times, and caught up to the present. We enjoyed each others company as afternoon gave way to evening. She walked me home and I asked if she would like to stay for a little while. Night turned into day. I didn’t want to go back to my work. I just wanted to stay with my friend. I was feeling like I was in love all over again. I didn’t want to do anything but be with her. But I couldn’t just abandon my duties. She knew the conflict I was having inside myself and suggested that she tag along. That sounded like a great idea! I can do what I need to do and enjoy her company all day. This is great!
So we went to see the people that needed me. Throughout the day she kept interrupting. I found myself falling farther and farther behind while we went to places she wanted to visit. She also made suggestions for some peoples’ problems that I wouldn’t have advised, but I couldn’t seem to get a word in. We finished the day sitting at the same table at our old familiar place. I was feeling kind of guilty that I had let her have her way, but it was so nice to be with her again.
Then I looked out through the window and saw Jesus standing there, holding His cross like He had been dragging it around. He was staring right at me, with tears running down His face. I excused myself from my friend. “I’ll be right back.” She watched anxiously as I walked out the door. I walked up to Jesus…I couldn’t look Him in the eye, so I bowed my head and stared at the ground. I put my hands in my pocket. My fingers quickly found the little wooden cross and began to fumble it around inside the pocket. “Look…I, uh…I don’t know what to say.” I looked back inside the window to my friend, who winked and did a cute little wave. I turned back around and still couldn’t look Him in the eye. “I just…I need a break. I can’t do this right now.” I took the little cross I had been carrying around out of my pocket and held it out to Him. I watched as His hand lifted, and He held it out with the palm up. I could see the scar in His wrist where the nail had pierced through. I placed the little cross in His hand, turned my back on Him and went back inside to my old friend. As I sat back down, I could hear Jesus dragging his cross down the street. My friend took my hand and said…”It’s alright...You did the right thing. Everything’s going to be fine.”
The guilt I felt the first night faded in the coming weeks. Every day it was easier. I soon forgot about the heartbreak in His eyes. I kept telling myself “I’ll go back tomorrow,” but tomorrow never came. I soon grew tired of my old friend, and began to seek out others, never feeling satisfied the way I did when I just spent time with Jesus…not doing good works all the time, but just being in His presence. There’s just something about being with Him. I miss Him. I wonder if I can find my way back.
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