I have come to treat special friendships as something of sacramental value. Just as we believe that an extraordinary event happens when people put bread and wine together in the name of Christ, so there is an unusual occurrence when two or more commit to each another in a friendship built about Christ's name.
Gail, my wife, was once cornered by a woman after an unhappy church business meeting. It had been one of our first exposures to a small Baptist congregation where some loved to battle about budgets, paint color, and the succession of church officers.
"Gail, what do you think of us all after this evening?"
"I'm really disappointed by the hurt I saw tonight," she replied.
"Oh, don't let this bother you. Gail, if you and Gordon stay here long enough, you'll learn to be just like us."
"No," my wife said. "I love you all, but I never plan to be like that."
When those words were spoken, we were barely past our mid-twenties. In that rural fellowship we were the youngest adults. ...1