It’s Sunday evening and I am peaceful, sitting in my favorite chair in our library contemplating the posts for the week. After all, it’s the beginning of Christmas week and I am wondering what the Holy Spirit will prompt me with as the week progresses. In part, I owe my serenity this evening to a meeting I had earlier today with one of my oldest and dearest friends.
Mark flew into town today for quick meetings in the area Monday. Then back to his home in Virginia later in the afternoon. Last night, he let me know that he was heading to Indy and wondered if I had time for a quick cup of coffee before dinner tonight. He was going to spend the evening with his sons, but wanted to catch up with what has been going on in my life lately.
He follows the posts and even says that he can almost hear my voice when he reads the daily blogs, but it’s not quite the same as when we get together in person. I agree. I first met Mark back in the mid-eighties when we were both aspiring executives. I had my own staffing company and Mark worked for a well known area company. For some reason, he was impressed that I, as the owner of a business, called on him personally in an effort to earn his business – and we have been close ever since.
At first, it was a purely business relationship, but over time it turned into a personal friendship as well. In fact, eventually, Mark asked me to be the best man at his wedding. Admittedly, back in those days, neither one of us was very devout. We both believed in God, but we certainly didn’t live our lives like we did. As time moved on, so did Mark. He travelled up the corporate ladder and changed companies several times. In fact, he and his family moved to Florida and then Virginia. Oddly, other than working together when he was here in Indy, we have never done anything else together on a professional basis.
One day, years after I had started my spiritual journey, we were playing golf together. Now I am a horrible golfer, but Mark was patient and we had a great time. In fact, it was the first and only time that I have ever played golf during business hours. At the end of our game, we sat in the car and talked. Before we parted ways, I felt compelled to pray for him, on the spot, and it was the first time that we broached the subject of religious beliefs.
That day, Mark started his own faith journey and our friendship has continued to deepen throughout the years. Eventually, Mark accepted a board position for Chaplains at Work, the ministry that we founded to assist people in career transition. He still sits on the board almost 10 years later. And he has studied the Bible and honored God with his tithes and offerings as well. As the spiritual head of his household, he has honored God for many years now.
And this has become the third pillar of our friendship – corporate, personal and now, spiritual sharing of our lives. For more than a quarter of a century! So when Mark met me today, we shared our traditional hug and then he let me know that he sensed my uneasiness lately through the reading of my recent posts. I guess that I had not realized that I sounded so beat, but tonight I went back and re-read some of the things I have written this last week and I could see where Mark was coming from. And my father-in-law, among others, has made similar remarks about the pace of my life and the balance that I need to maintain to be useful to the kingdom of God and to my fellow man.
Frankly, I was a little surprised that he just came out with his observations – not sugar coated – but that is the relationship we have developed and have come to expect from one another. He was as direct today as he was the day he wrote one of my recommendations for entrance into seminary – the one that my professors referred to more than any other during my entire time in school.
And as a true friend, Mark just listened – to my struggles, my frustrations and yes, even my fears and worries about my shortcomings. We only had about 90 minutes together, far too short a time to really catch up, but it was like rocket fuel for me…. I just needed that time to decompress and hear Mark’s insights on my life. When we were getting ready to leave, he wanted to pray – for me. Talk about full circle. My mind raced back to that day at the golf course when I first prayed for him.
Tonight’s verse is from Proverbs 18:24, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” The idea here is that while we may have many acquaintances, and I do, true friends are tough to find. I am blessed to have several true friends in my life. There are three that I can immediately think of – and they all pray for me. And every time, it is refreshing; and appreciated.
My encouragement tonight is to let you know that there are people out there who want to pray for you – and lift you up to the Most High God. My prayer is that God will place additional people in your life who can speak truth to you, as Mark does to me, and accompany you on your spiritual journey. Because we all need people who can walk beside us, who can withstand the test of time and can intercede with prayer on our behalf when we may just be too tired to represent ourselves to the Lord. Thanks, Mark……