bits from bob....

Best Friends?

by Robert J. Young
©, 2002, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

When the light turned red, I was trapped, standing at the corner. "Can I have something for my file, mister"? He asked. This one was a crazy, no doubt about it. You could tell by the grimy box under his arm. "Sorry, no money." I had repeated the old lie so often, it was almost automatic.

"Have you got anything for my file?" he repeated. Slowly the message got through and I pulled out a brochure. "No!" he shouted, "I don't have a file for that." I took the brochure back. "Come on, light, change." I stepped over the curb to look for a break in the traffic.

"I'm Howard," he said, "What's your name?" "Mark." One word was all I intended to give. I didn't want a bunch of phone calls. I noticed he was writing with difficulty. The light changed and I gladly walked off. Down the block I turned to see the "crazy" approach his next victim.

A few days later I was walking the same route and noticed an ambulance. One the stretcher they carried the "crazy." By the attendants' conversation, I knew he wasn't going to live long. An officer was questioning the crowd to see if anyone knew the victim. No one seemed to care, not even the cop.

"Did anyone know this guy?" Finally I said, "His name is Howard." People backed away from me as if knowing the crazy fella made me crazy too.

"Well, at least there'll be a name for the headstone. Thanks." He shoved the box into my hands. "You take it, it's just garbage."

I looked around for a trash can but thought....maybe it's one of those stories I've read about...misers who had thousands of dollars and lived like bums. So I opened the box.

I was disappointed. I saw nothing but an old file folder. I pulled out the folder and noticed crude printing on the front--"FRIENDS." I opened it and looked inside. It only had one small scrap of paper. On it was written, "MARK."

I admit I "borrowed" this poignant reminder of the power of friendship. I still recall a young man whom I met in Tulsa about 30 years ago during my ministry there. We developed a friendship, although it was very superficial in comparison to that I shared with many other friends.
One day after we had spent a very brief time together, he said, "Bob, you are my best friend." My immediate thought was, "How sad!" A superficial, sporadic friendship which I would place barely above the "acquaintance" level was the best relationship he knew.

Our world is filled with lonely people in need of a friend who genuinely cares. Some of the saddest words in Scripture are the lament of David in Psalm 142:4. (Read it.) Everyone you and I know needs to know Jesus as their friend, but the only way they can come to know him is through us.

In your prayers this week, ask God to lead you as you seek those whom you can befriend, and ask also for courage and boldness that you will introduce them to your friend, Jesus.

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Last updated January 2, 2002.