Sunday, August 29, 2010

Youth Group Reunion - Thoughts on Friendship

Once again I have to apologize for the long lapse in posts. It's been a crazy, but extremely fun summer and I just haven't made the time to write. Fall will be busy as well with 3 kids all in Fall sports, school, church, work, etc., so no promises, but I'll try to be better about keeping up with it.

I had the opportunity yesterday to attend a reunion of my high school church youth group. It was great to see people that in some cases I've not seen in 20 years, including my youth pastor from that time. I've occasionally run into some friends from time to time (and see a couple of people regularly), but this is the first time that we've been able to get most of us together all at once with our families. We had a great time telling old stories, looking at old pictures and videos, and watching our kids make fun of our hair and clothes.

But you see this was more than just a chance for me to catch up with old friends because these people were more than just high school friends. They were people that I shared my life with during those critical teenage years. Not just the normal high school stuff, although there was plenty of that, but these were people that I laughed with, cried with, prayed with, studied God's word with, struggled to understand God with. These were people that knew all my faults and I theirs and we still decided to love and support each other. These were people that saw me at my best and at my worst and were still my friends. These were the kind of friends that were unshockable and weren't afraid to confront you in love and dive into the deep dark places we sometimes go in life. These were the kind of friends that you get together with after 20 years and it seems like you were just with them yesterday. You just pick up right where you left off.

Did we always get along with one another? No. Did we fight and argue sometimes over silly things? Yes. Did we wound each other, sometimes deeply? Yes. We were human after all and even worse teenagers full of hormones and out of control emotions. But we truly cared about each other. Did we do this out of our own strength and wisdom? Certainly not. We were able to do this because our foundation was always Christ. The bond of our faith in Him is what our friendship was built on. You see, when you spend hours upon hours praying and worshiping the living God with one another, sometimes dealing with very serious issues, you grow close in ways that are hard to explain. This is what Christian community is all about.

We were also very fortunate to have a youth pastor that loved us unconditionally and modeled Christ to us. Talk about unshockable. He was always available night or day. He was always honest with us and was never afraid to tell it like it was. Whether we needed a strong reminder that we were drifting off the path or a shoulder to cry on, he was there. The man that I am today is due in large part to him. Thank you for your leadership, Rick.

We were also very fortunate to have parents that were willing to open their houses to us. We were always hanging out till all hours of the night (or morning) at someone's house. But they offered much more than their homes, they also offered their hearts, wisdom and guidance. Again Christian community with one generation passing it along to the next.
It was truly amazing to see all the people there that are serving God in some capacity in the church today. Missionaries, pastors, deacons, teachers, and servants in other areas too numerous to name. In my service to my church as a deacon, I've always tried to model the humble servant's heart that Rick always showed us in his time with us.

Sadly, there have been some that have drifted from their faith. However, I'm hopeful that they will once again discover God standing there with open arms waiting to welcome them home. That the good work that was begun in them so many years ago, He will see through to completion. Just as He's doing in all of us. We're all just at different paths on the journey and God's sovereign grace can overcome any obstacle.

I pray for my children everyday that they would have friends like the one's God blessed me with. I wouldn't be where I am today without them. I hope that I can pass this idea of Christian community on to them so they understand that none of us can do this alone. Thank you all for your friendship and let's not wait another 20 years to get together again.

God Bless,