OLD FRIENDS


Three days ago I was at an Amish wedding in Lancaster, Pa. An “old” man shook my hand and called me by name. “Have we met?” I asked. He told me his name, but I didn't recognize it. Knowing that most of the Lancaster boys had nicknames, I asked if he had one. He hesitated and grinned. “Ketchup,” he said. “Ketchup! Yes! I remember you! Florida!” We ran with the same bunch of youth in Pinecraft forty some years ago! I had never heard his real name. We reminisced until the wedding started.

This morning I saw an “old” man paying his bill at the local coffee shop. I happened to catch his eye from where I was sitting and he nodded a friendly greeting. I nodded back. On his way to the door he swerved over to my table and said, “Hello, John. Do you remember me?”

Oh, man... I looked him in the eye as I went through my mental rolodex, trying to think of some polite way to let him know that I have “old-timers” disease. He does not look familiar. But as we looked each other in the eye and he stood there waiting for recognition, a strange transformation occurred. Instead of staring into the eyes of a sixty year old Amish bishop with a beard and straw hat, I was looking into the eyes of a 20 year-old second baseman wearing white pants and a green 'Kidron Auction' jersey. I “saw” him scoop up a ground ball and fire it to first! “Joe!” I blurted out! (Not his real name). “Is that you?!” It was. We “caught up” for a few minutes.

Last week Lydia and I had supper with a couple of friends- our 20th year in a row. Once a month my high class gets together at a restaurant in Wooster. Several times a week I go to the coffee shop- not necessarily for coffee. There is just something about friends, especially old (long-time) friends.

MAKE NEW FRIENDS, BUT KEEP THE OLD; THOSE ARE SILVER, THESE ARE GOLD.
NEW-MADE FRIENDSHIPS, LIKE NEW WINE, AGE WILL MELLOW AND REFINE.
FRIENDSHIPS THAT HAVE STOOD THE TEST, TIME AND CHANGE ARE SURELY BEST;
BROW MAY WRINKLE, HAIR GROW GRAY, FRIENDSHIP NEVER KNOWS DECAY.
FOR 'MID OLD FRIENDS TRIED AND TRUE, ONCE MORE WE OUR YOUTH RENEW.
BUT OLD FRIENDS, ALAS MAY DIE, NEW FRIENDS MUST THEIR PLACE SUPPLY.
CHERISH FRIENDSHIP IN YOUR BREAST. NEW IS GOOD, BUT OLD IS BEST;
MAKE NEW FRIENDS, BUT KEEP THE OLD; THOSE ARE SILVER, THESE ARE GOLD. -JOSEPH PARRY

Who is my oldest friend? Well, outside of family, I have friends that I met in first grade, and some that I knew before I started school (I didn't get out much before that). I keep in touch with high school friends, college friends, barn building friends, missionary friends; friends I met plumbing, singing, silo building, traveling... oh, and ball-playing and Florida friends.

But there is a Friend Who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24). Joseph Scriven wrote about Him in a poem that became a song entitled: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” “Can we find a friend so faithful...?” (Answer: No) “Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?”

“You are my friends... No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing: but I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from the Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

Old friends. The Bible writes about them. Singers sing about them:

“Bless my life and grant me one old friend at least one old friend.” -Willie Nelson singing Roger Miller's song.
“What A Friend We (I) Have In Jesus” - Joseph Scriven

I cherish old (and new) friends. Especially my most faithful Friend: Jesus. Do you know Him? I would be glad to introduce you to Him.

Common Ground Ministries

John was singing in a country western band at the time of his conversion in 1972. God changed his desire for stardom in Nashville to minitstry.

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