I count myself a blessed man because I have many good friends. Some I have known for a very short time. Others I have known for many years. Some I haven’t seen for ages. Others I see several times a week. However, if my mam’s illness has taught me anything about my friends – it’s that they are a gift of grace. While I don’t think I’ve ever consciously taken any friendship for granted, I think it’s fair to say for all of us that we do sometimes forget just how blessed we are to have true friends.
In these recent dark days God’s beautiful grace has shone brighter than ever through my friends. I couldn’t possibly name all of those who have drawn near to support me and my family recently, but the truth is that if everyone whose sincere offer of care and practical help were to give just one brick – we could have built a mansion!! Me, my sister and my dad have been overwhelmed by all those who have stepped up to the plate and offered strong friendship in such varied and wonderful ways.
Friends like the bloke who poured my dad a much-needed pint one night when he came back from the hospital, and my sister’s boss who basically gave her several weeks of compassionate leave to come down and be with mam and dad in her final days. Friends like my dad’s neighbours who are looking after his chickens “until further notice” and those who babysat for us while we went to the funeral. Friends like my best mate Hodgey who came up from Cardiff to treat me to a Jalfrezi on my birthday, and my New Breed compadre Peyton who travelled all the way up from Swansea with his family, just to support me at the funeral. And don’t even get me started on the 100+ sympathy cards, the 200+ people at the funeral, the emails, the blog comments, the text messages, the tweets, the phone calls, the prayers, even the hugs…
Suffice to say that my family and I are well loved. We know it. We feel it. We appreciate it deeply. Proverbs 17v17 says:
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
I know what that verse really means now! So to all my true friends – thanks so much for being channels of God’s amazing grace to me during my toughest time. I love you and I thank God for putting you in my life.
As I reflect on the wonder of God’s grace to me through my friends I can’t help but be challenged by the following thought – what sort of friend am I? Am I a faithful friend? A grateful friend? A generous friend. A true friend?
I hope so because I want to be like Jesus – the friend who sticks closer than a brother!