Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

March 10, 2013

Good friends are at the top of my list of blessings



Supremely important to me are my faith, family and friends. Material things are necessary and helpful but they are nowhere near the top of my blessings list.

Faith is the foundation for a life of meaning and joy. Beliefs determine how we live out our days. When the fierce winds of pain and trouble drive me to my knees my fears are subdued by the conviction that a loving God is in control. Faith in the love of God steadies the soul in the turbulent struggles of life.

The love of my family is precious to me. That is what makes a home so important. A house is not a home. Family is what makes a house a home. When life dealt me its cruelest blows it was the love of family that helped me pick up the pieces and get back in the race. Though life is difficult it would be impossible without the forgiveness, encouragement and loving support of family.

Good friends are as essential as breathing. To be friendless would be worse than being homeless. Without good friends life shrivels and dies. With good friends life is worth living.

A man may say, “My dog is my best friend.” A man who has a dog that loves him is indeed fortunate. But as valuable as a dog may be, a dog’s “love” pales in significance to the love of a human being who has chosen to be a good friend.

My best friend is my wife. That was not always the case but we worked at it until it became a reality. She tells me the truth but she clothes it in kindness. That makes it almost irresistible. When she speaks truth I recognize that she is doing it for my good. I would be a fool not to listen – and to mend my ways accordingly.

Good friends are described in many different ways. Some descriptions remind me of my wife, like this one: “When it hurts to look back, and you’re scared to look ahead, you can look beside you and your best friend will be there.” I can say that about Dean; she has been beside me in the worst and the best of times – her love and her faith in me never wavering.

My wife touches my heart in new ways every day. And she is pure joy to live with because every day I discover something new about her to love and admire. To be honest I stand in awe of the remarkable person she has become. And I am constantly astounded by the difference she makes in my life. Yes, she is my dearest friend and I can say to her, “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

Another popular description of good friends is this: “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” How true that is! I am a blessed man because I have several true friends who have left their footprints in my heart.

      I grew up with one such friend. We have been friends since high school days. We meet for coffee often to “catch up” with each other. Though we may not meet for a month or two when we do it is as though we are continuing the conversation we had when we last met. He makes me feel remarkably accepted and I sense he feels the same way.

      This friend’s sense of humor always blesses me. He cannot speak long without laughing. There is joy inside him that keeps bubbling up in any conversation. He has a gift for injecting fun instead of gloom into an ordinary chat. About our friendship he would probably say, “A true friend is someone who thinks you are a good egg even though he knows you are slightly cracked.” With that I will not argue.

      Friendship need not be forsaken because one moves to another state. One of my friends for 30 years lives in a distant state. But periodically he will arrange for us to meet while he is in the south for business. Recently he stayed over for an extra day so we could have lunch. With no agenda we talked for three hours.  It was worth the two-hour drive to spend time remembering, reflecting and renewing our friendship.

      More than 50 years ago I became friends with a fellow pastor who is my age. We have never lived in the same town but we have stoked the fires of friendship by meeting together many times. For many years we met every few years. Then we began to meet once a year. Finally last year we decided that at our age we had better start meeting every three or four months. So we do.

      We usually meet halfway between Atlanta and Montgomery, have lunch together and again without an agenda share our hearts for about three hours. We laugh about our failures, rejoice about our successes, and celebrate the funny lessons we are learning about growing old.

      Telephones may be a nuisance sometime but they are also a source of blessing. I love it when the phone rings and I hear a good friend saying, “I just needed to hear the sound of your voice today.” Such moments call for a loud “Glory!”

      It may be trite but I like the saying, “A true friend is someone who knows all about you and loves you anyway.” That is what makes good friends so precious to me – they know the truth about me but still love me. I am so blessed to have so many wonderful friends in my balcony cheering me on – in a hundred different ways!

      There is an old gospel song that says, “What a friend we have in Jesus.” I am tempted to wade into that idea but then I would start preaching and you might go to sleep. So I will simply conclude with this thought: Thank God for faith, family and friends. They are on the top of my blessings list!  + + +