A few weeks ago, Lyn and I enjoyed an evening meal with best friends. It was a rich time, a “this is what it’s all about” time. On our way home, God reminded me of the significance of friendship. As I write these words, I can sense His presence again. It’s like He is taking a sip of coffee and saying, “Don’t take them for granted. Friends are too valuable and rare to be thrown under the bus or cast aside.”
Friend isn’t a title to earn, or a status symbol to acquire; it’s a masterfully designed human connection, a joint venture in life, a “down-and-dirty” battle-scared and victory marked story of faith in action. And, nothing is more valuable or more necessary for life to the full. We were created to live our days full of friends.
In a quiet room, removed from the distractions and approaching trauma, Jesus gathered his followers together and revealed, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:15-17 NIV
Friends share secrets, they know what’s going on, even if they live far away. It doesn’t happen accidentally; real friends are deliberately chosen and grown. And, in Jesus’ words, they love each other. In our words, they pay attention to each each other and bring out the best in each other.
Here this, God’s masterpiece of creation isn’t found in glorious sunsets, mountaintop panoramas, gentle snow falls, or white-sand beaches; God did his best work with the human desire for friendship.
Remember, God experienced it first-hand with Abraham, the man who was called God’s friend. James 2:23 NIV
You can get your face on the front page of USA Today, have a 100,000 followers on Twitter, or get 10 million hits on a YouTube video, but without real friends to share it with, the achievement is short lived. You may be networked to thousands in Facebook, yet still have zero best friends. There isn’t a magic pill or intoxicating drink that can replace the natural high of faithful friends.
Real “BFF” make mistakes; they mess-up and struggle with failures and frustrations. And, at times they get in our face and say what needs to be said. Their words, even if they hurt, always matter.
The Bucket List is a dialogue-intensive movie (2007) about two dying men on a three-month adventure, a journey that transforms a bully into a buddy. At first, the only thing they have in common is their terminal illnesses, but something quite unexpected changes everything. The pompous, arrogant, corporate billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and pensive, philosophical, car mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman), become honest to goodness, best friends.
While sharing a hospital room, they begin making a list of all the things they’d like to do before they kick the bucket. It’s their bucket list. What began as a simple conversation became a time sensitive calendar of activities, much more than a weekend “todo” list. When they were released to die, they took off, determined to complete as many items on the list as time permitted.
In the end not everything was completed, but Ed and Carter had become best friends.
These guys didn’t have sentimental, touchy-feely moments; but, during the bucket list journey, both men found a missing part of their lives. They didn’t find it in some far off land; they found it in the treasure-trove of real, unscripted, in-your-face shared moments as friends.
Near the end of the movie Cole eulogies Carter‚ “I loved him. And I miss him. Carter and I saw the world together. Which is amazing… When you think that only three months ago, we were complete strangers! I hope that it doesn’t sound selfish of me, but…the last months of his life were the best months of mine. He saved my life. And he knew it before I did.”
It’s just a movie, right?
The dirty secret is, life was not meant to be lived without friends. So, cherish and validate your friends. Eat together, share pictures, stories, adventures, failures, and mess-ups. That’s what friends do.
Regardless of how much we plan and pretend, nothing can replace the need for a friend who will step in and save us. Sometimes the buddy saves us from our enemies and sometimes the buddy saves us from ourselves. But real friends save lives! Be that kind of friend.
Begin today. Start a buddy list.