I just saw this picture on Facebook and it honestly made me reflect the blessings in my life.
I have had many, many people come into my life and then leave for whatever reason. We could have just drifted away as many of us do, as life begins to take over after high school. Or we could have had our differences. I’ve had several of those over the years. Many more from working since the age of sixteen. I wonder why when someone gets fired from or quits a job they no longer have contact with the fellow employees…
God has truly blessed me in the friend aspect. I still talk to many of my friends from high school. Granted it is mostly thanks to Facebook. I have shared many memories with them and it has been great to get “caught” back up. Several of us communicate via text or actual phone calls. Kind of scary I know. But friends will always find a way to talk with each other even when there is no “emergency” for prayer. Friends many times are there to just lend an ear and nothing more.
While I was running from my calling as a pastor, God set it up for me to counsel at Camp of the Pines in Bismark, Arkansas for a summer. Well, that summer turned into an annual trek to “home”. And by home I mean a place of rest, a place where the cares of the world just disappear the moment I arrived. There is gate at the beginning of the road that leads to the camp and every time I drove through that gate there was a sense of relief as the weight of the world was lifted off. Camp of the Pines was the place were I found myself again…for a little while.
I was placed in the position to care for high school kids and become their “dad” for the week. I built true friendships there. The kind that do last a lifetime from the other counselors, the kids, and the staff. We would always sing Friends by Michael W. Smith at the end of each week. It was a time of reflection of how the week went, prayer time and saying the hard word goodbye. The prayer time was a tough time as it was a double hug type prayer. That is where everyone gets in a circle, one person starts and goes to the person to their immediate right, gives that person a hug, shares with them what they meant to them that week and prays for them. They continue around the circle till they get their original place. Then they get their hug and pray. So everyone gets hugs twice. Very moving. Very touching. And we stayed in contact with each other throughout the year. I have been to some of my “kids” weddings and had the honor of watching them grow into adulthood and have kids of their own. They are friends for life. They are family.
I have many Facebook friends who have become more than just a name on a screen. They have become family to me. They are my brothers and sisters and I would do anything within my limited power to help them just as I know they would me. Kind of weird how you meet someone on a Stryper fan page and through time God draws you to become prayer partners, accountability partners and well, friends that you can not imagine not having in your life. I have many of those. They are my closest friends, my confidants…my friends forever.
Then you have the random meetings. One in particular speaks of God’s grace and mercy. I met a wonderful woman when I gave my testimony at the Wrestling For Your Life Conference last year. Powerful testimony she has herself. I love her dearly. I call her sis as well as friend. We are both on a journey to spread the truth but with different backgrounds and different testimonies, though both dealt with sexual issues. I thank God for sending her into my life. She along with my brothers and sisters from Facebook, church and high school have kept me grounded through my struggles with porn, alcohol, a failed marriage and just daily life.
I am honored and blessed to have them.
I love you guys!
Joey & Tessa Jordan, Dave & Laura Bannister, Derek & Tracy Kitchell, Kerri Bishop Reece, Angie Morgan, Ralph & Paige Gaskin, Janeece Free, Michelle Rijbroek (Halo), Chris & Stephanie Sharpley, Krista Jackson, Jeff Gibson, Keith Fentress, Trish Kifer, Brett & Erin Barclay, Matt Brakefield, Raymond & Ellen Perrin, Michael & Jennifer Johnson, Linda Johnson, Chad Langford….the list could go on! For those who have gone on before me: Susie & Neal Jordan (my second mom & dad), Jim Draughon (my mentor for years and the camp director), Pat Riley (my DM from my days with Movie Gallery) and Carey Paul Smith (employee) I miss you deeply!