Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I like Oprah Winfrey’s quote about having friends. She said: “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” That’s worth thinking about, isn’t it?
Having a friend who is there at difficult times. Someone has said that “good friends are like stars—you don’t always see them, but you know they are there”. Maybe you can think of a few people like that—people you trust, people you can count on. A true friend is someone who is there for you when they would rather be somewhere else—but they stay around with you.
There are many internet sites around now where you can establish friendships with others. This is something that the younger generation especially like to do. And then we like to share with our friends over meals or coffee. Speaking of coffee, did you know how the coffee chain Starbucks started? While on a business trip to Italy in 1983, Howard Schultz discovered that Italians were living remarkably balanced lives. He was impressed by the passion they brought to their work, their rest and their relationships, and he noticed that a great deal of enjoyment was being found in the friendships and camaraderie of Italy’s 200,000 coffee bars.
Because there was nothing similar in the United States at that time, Schultz began to dream of establishing Italian-influenced places where friends could congregate. He understood that in America, as well as in Italy, it’s not about coffee, it’s about connection. That became the Starbucks Principle. I’m not sure that this company is doing so well now, but Starbucks spread around the world. Schultz realised the need people have to meet together but how sad it is to know people who reach old age and say, I never had time to make friends—I was too busy in my work. Sharing together with an old friend over a cup of tea or coffee is very rewarding. I’m sure you’ve done that yourself.
The popular American poet Edgar Guest wrote a poem called “A Friend’s Greeting” that says:
I’d like to be the sort of friend
that you have been to me;
I’d like to be the help that you’ve been
always glad to be;
I’d like to mean as much to you
each minute of the day
As you have meant, old friend of mine,
to me along the way.
Spending Time With Our Friends
In 2005, a well-known American business leader named Eugene O’Kelly died aged 53 from an aggressive brain cancer. He had three brain tumours. He was CEO of accounting firm KPMG, one of the world’s biggest accounting firms. He was at the top of his successful career. But when his doctor told him the bad news that he would be dead in 100 days, he resigned from his job and devoted himself to reclaiming relationships with his family and long-lost friends. He even wrote a book called Chasing Daylight – How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life. Life suddenly took on a new meaning and he discovered too late he had neglected his friends. He did all he could to restore the broken friendships before he died on 10 September 2005.
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How sad and unfortunately a true story. We can be so busy that we overlook the most precious part of life—keep in contact with our friends.
I like what the Bible says in Proverbs 18:24 (CEV): “Some friends don’t help, but a true friend is closer than your own family”. How different it was for Job in the Old Testament who went through a terrible time of suffering and his friends deserted him. He said in Job 6: “My friends, I am desperate, and you should help me even if I no longer respect God All-Powerful. But you…suddenly disappear in the summer heat” (v14-16 – CEV).
We could call them ‘fair-weather friends’ who left him at his greatest need. We want friends who are a bit more conscientious than that and I think it’s helpful to think of friendship as a gift God has given us. He may have placed people in your life that are very special, and they have been there for you in difficult times. It’s good to thank him for these people who bring happiness and joy to our lives. He brings them to us to comfort and restore our own sense of purpose, or shake us up a bit if we’ve become complacent.
In John 15:15, Jesus said, “I don’t speak to you as my servants. I speak to you as my friends”. That’s a wonderful statement—to know Jesus sees us as his friends. He is the best friend you’ll ever have. We are not his servants—rather his best friends. He loves us unconditionally as a true friend does.
Benjamin Disraeli said: “The greatest good you can do for others is not just share your riches, but to reveal to them their own”—which is what God does for us. How? One key thing is to spend time with God. Spending time with friends is good. But we can use our friends like radio/background noise to avoid the silence, to avoid facing ourselves and God.
We need to spend time with God as a significant other—not just talking at him, but being silent. Because that’s one way you know who your true friends are—that you can sit together in silence and be content in each others’ company. And that goes for God as well as anyone else.
(To be continued in Good Friends – Part 2)