In Part 1, I spoke about the value of having some good and close friends, and we’ll continue on with this theme, because I think it’s important. No-one likes to live alone without the warmth and value of friendships. Friendships are remarkably powerful things when one sacrifices for the other.
Let me tell you a true story. As part of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Esther Kim and Kay Poe had been training for the Taekwondo event. They were among the top fighters in the United States and they were also very good friends. For years they had dreamed of making the US team for the Sydney Olympics. Both made it through to the final competition in the trials with only one winner to go to Sydney. In their last fight before the finals, something went wrong and Kay dislocated her knee and went down in great pain. She was in agony. She got up in pain but finished the match and won. So the only contestants remaining for the final match were Kay with her injured leg and her friend Esther.
One woman would be chosen for the Olympic team. Esther decided Kay, the better sportsman whose leg would be healed in time, should go and take part. Both flew to Sydney and Esther cheered from the stands. Here’s what Esther said: “This was our dream—going to the Olympics. It was so hard that I cried about my decision. I gave my friend my dream but for the first time I felt like a champion”. But isn’t that what friends do? They give good gifts to each other—not necessarily the material things but opportunities to fulfil their own dreams. Friends encourage each other when times are tough.
I like the story of a young boy who always wished he could fly and could never understand why he couldn’t. He could see birds that were bigger than him could fly, so he couldn’t understand why he couldn’t join them. And there was another little boy who was disabled and wished he could walk and run like other kids but he couldn’t and wondered why.
One day the little boy who wanted to fly escaped the orphanage where he lived and went to a park. There was the other boy who couldn’t walk playing in a sandbox. He ran over to him and asked if he ever wanted to fly like a bird. “No, but I have wondered what it’s like to run like you and other kids”. “Do you think we could be friends?” Then, “Sure”.
The Boy That Wanted to Fly
So they played together for hours that day making sandcastles together, making funny noises together that made them laugh. Then the father of the boy who couldn’t walk came to pick up his son—he came with the wheelchair. The boy who wanted to fly walked over to his new friend and said, “You’re my only friend and I wish there was something I could do to make you walk or run. But I can’t. But there is something else I can do for you”.
He told his friend to climb on his back and they began to run across the park. Harder and harder he made his little legs travel and soon the wind whistled across both their faces. The boys father started to cry as he watched his handicapped son flapping his arms up and down in the wind saying, “I’m flying, daddy. I’m flying, daddy”.
You see, it’s not that difficult to offer great gifts when friendship is involved. It only takes a bit of care and compassion.
Jesus is a friend we all should have. In John 15, he said, “I have called you my friends”, and he is the best friend. When he was on earth he encountered many people and befriended so many. Sometimes his act of friendship was not welcomed like the day he met a rich young man. He was called the rich young ruler. He came to Jesus and said, “I want to follow you”. But Jesus said, “if you want to follow me you must sell everything you have and give it up”. Unfortunately he didn’t like that answer and he left disappointed. Jesus was a friend to him that day, even though he probably didn’t realise it. He was a friend with a tough message.
There’s another day when Jesus was involved in an awful incident which involved a woman caught in adultery and the religious leaders were wanting to stone her to death. He intervened that day and challenged these leaders to rethink what they were doing and to stop judging the woman. He literally saved her from death that day.
He became a friend to a frightened distressed woman fearing for her life. He rescued her from injustice. He spoke to her, built up her self-esteem and sent her on her way. May God use us to befriend others.