It was March 1977 that began it all. I had recently began my own faith journey. The December before, I had asked a simple question - "Jesus, if you are real, come into my life". I knew if there was no Jesus, it would simply be a question resolved in its naked silence. If he was real, my long haired life would soon change. How, I was not sure but my selfish, self-preoccupied story would end.
So within 4 months, I was asked to speak at this church camp in South Africa. The first night, I told them my story. That was all I had. I had no theology, exegesis, wise or persuasive words. I simply had a story, and I told it.
Many teenagers stepped forward as an old fashioned 'altar call' drew them to an introduction of their own Jesus story. In the little crowd were 2 girls whose eyes glistened with the tenderness of a perfect love encounter. Jesus found them and they found each other. An almost 35 year friendship began.
That is what this weekend was all about. Remarkably our friendship with Bruce and Helena has now spanned all these years. I did their wedding in a very intimate setting some 28 years ago. Both couples ended up in Southern California. And our friendship simply kept ticking on.
This weekend was as much about celebrating a birthday as it has been about applauding friendships. From establishing a new friendship when M and I had lunch with Britt on Friday, through the Friday night fun of margaritas and tacos, and a most outstanding sit down dinner last night with many honoring stories, as even Lorna skyped in from Australia. A truly remarkable testimony of a woman who gets friendship.
See Jesus connects us with friends that we are to do life with. There are times we 'live in each other's pockets' and there are times when we are separated by time, space and journeys. But these are gifts that we are to treasure and continue to invest in. To end our days, naked and relationally empty-handed is to dishonor the great friendship maker. Over dinner I sat with a journalist from a large newspaper and the director of a film school. Amazing how one friendship would now connect us with two more and then more and then more. They won't all be as close nor carry such history, but they will all be valuable.
As I blog, I enjoy my coffee, my scriptures and my reflections. In a while we will join the crew for taco breakfast before heading home to LA. This time the worship on my lips, has a lighter note. "He is good and his love endures"... the hymn writer wrote. Because Jesus met me that day in 1996, he not only put me on a redemption journey, but gave me friends and for that I am eternally grateful.