Friend or Not?

by | Jul 14, 2022 | Abiding, Friendship, Presence

Years ago, back when I was a seminary student in France, I had a very good friend. He was from the south pacific, and from the moment we met, we hit it off. He was such an open, likeable guy, and I very much enjoyed spending time with both him and his wife.

My friend gave a powerful massage. Whenever I had pain in my back, all I had to do was ask, and a few minutes later, I would be pain free. He was also one of the few students at the seminary who had a car, and he would let me take his car into town any time I wanted to.

Unfortunately, he was two years ahead of me in school, so at the end of my second year, I found myself having to say good-bye to someone who had become a wonderful friend. I don’t like good-byes at the best of times, but I figured we could write to each other and maybe, just maybe, I might some day find myself in the South Pacific.

The final day arrived, and my friend surprised me by telling me he would give me his car. Of course, he couldn’t take it with him, but I would have felt very bad to have taken it for free; and when he refused to take any money for it, I declined the gift. I had my home address all written out on a slip of paper in my pocket, and I was ready to give it to him when the bomb dropped:

“I appreciate your friendship,” he said. “But I need to tell you something: Don’t try to write to me once I’m back home, because I won’t write you back.”

My mouth dropped open for a few seconds, and then I clamped it shut and swallowed hard to remove the lump in my throat. Now I would miss him doubly as much!

And then he and his wife were gone.

It didn’t take long for the negative thoughts to begin circulating in my mind: If he didn’t want to correspond with me anymore, perhaps he hadn’t been my friend at all! And then all of my innate insecurity began to arise. What kind of a person would make me think he was a good friend, only to find out that he wasn’t a friend at all?

Now, several decades later, I realize that my friend more than likely wasn’t one for writing letters, and this was his way of warning me that we might not be able to correspond after he left. Nonetheless, his words hurt deeply.

Over the years, I’ve had many “friends” come and go. Some were real friends, others were not. Nonetheless, there is One who never leaves: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18 NIV). And this One also calls us “friend”: “I have called you friends…” (John 15:15b NIV). Even though He may no longer walk this planet, He left us the best letters ever, in the Bible. And more than this, He left His Spirit with us: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17 NIV). He doesn’t give me massages; rather, He heals my back. He doesn’t offer me His car; rather, He gives me life eternal, and in His presence is fullness of joy (See Ps. 16:11).

Feeling betrayed? Are you a little low on true friends? Let Jesus be that friend for you! He wants it more than anything else; and when you call out to Him, He will ALWAYS answer!

In His love,
Rob Chaffart


Friend or Not?