Best Friend I Ever Had
As I started out to church that night I began to pray that the Lord would lead me to a church home where I could start attending regularly again. It was about an hour drive to this church, and since my wife had left me and moved back to Nashville, I didn't go very often. In fact, it had been about a year. The only reason I was going that night was because I had heard that Henry Mahan was going to be preaching, and I loved to hear him preach.
I was lonely, missed my wife terribly, and hadn't really made any good friends since moving to Atlanta. On the way to church I was praying about that as well. The Lord knew that I needed both; a good church home to plug into, and a good Christian friend to fellowship and pray with, and help keep me accountable.
It was a small church about forty miles outside Atlanta, in a remote country area. I had been there a time or two before, because my preacher in Nashville recommended it, but the hour drive was just a bit much. When I walked in that night, it was packed, about eighty people or so. We enjoyed singing some great old hymns, and Henry brought a powerful message.
As it was breaking up I overheard a lady behind me telling someone that she wouldn't be able to come the next night because she was afraid to drive after dark (her son drove her that night). Without thinking at all, I turned around and said "I couldn't help but overhear what you were saying about driving after dark. I'm going to come back tomorrow night, if you'd like for me to pick you up." She didn't even have to think about it. She just smiled and said "that would be wonderful; if you're sure it's not too much trouble."
I assured her that it wasn't, and we introduced ourselves. At the time I was a forty-three year old guy separated from my wife, and she was a seventy-six year old widow. Her name was Esther Carmichael. When she told me where she lived, I was relieved when I found out it was only about fifteen minutes from my house.
I picked Esther up the next night, and as we were pulling out of her driveway she said "Eddie, would you mind telling me about how the Lord saved you?" I told her I would be happy to, and spent most of the hour-long drive to church telling her my testimony.
We really hit it off, which I know probably sounds kind of strange. You wouldn't think that a forty-three year old guy and a seventy-six year old lady would have all that much in common. But the single most important thing that we had in common was the Lord, and that seemed to be all that mattered.
We went the next two nights of the Bible conference, and when I told her that I wished she would join me for the Sunday services, she said she would love to. She said that ever since her husband died (which had been about seven years at that time), she didn't enjoy going to the church where he preached for thirty years.
When we left church that Sunday, I asked Esther if she wanted to join me for the Wednesday night service, and she was overjoyed.
That began a relationship of me picking up Esther every Sunday and Wednesday for church services for the next seven years. And when you're shut up in a car with someone twice a week for an hour drive to and from church, you get to know each other extremely well. I mean, eventually, it all comes out, the good, bad, and just plain ugly (all of which was mine).
I remember overhearing Esther telling someone at the church once that I was the best friend she ever had. I soon felt the same way. I witnessed firsthand, how she said and did everything that truly reflected someone who loved the Lord with all their heart, mind, and soul. It had an amazing impact on my life.
The Lord answered my most pressing prayers when I met Esther. I found a church home and a best friend all at the same time.
Esther died in 2001, and I had the privilege of giving my best friend's eulogy.
Note: This is a totally true story.
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