It is always good to see "old friends." Every year my wife, daughter, and I enjoy visiting the Tulsa state fair. We don't go to ride rides; we mostly enjoy seeing various exhibits and shows. But every year one of our highlights is visiting the petting zoo. For the past several years I have shared attention with one particular llama. Over the years we have sort of become friends. Honestly, I doubt, from year to year, that he actually remembers me; but I remember him and always enjoy saying, "Hi," and petting him for a while. Friendships can be meaningful in so many ways....
My 50th year high school reunion will be coming in the summer of 2020. Already plans are being made and already I've been contacting old friends to make sure they are planning to attend. Some of these are people I've known since elementary school, but for all these years our paths have crossed in a variety of ways. These are people with whom I have shared life; and some of them are people, who throughout the years, have prayed for and encouraged me. "Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice." (Pv. 27:9). Although most of these have never really given me any advice; they have inspired me with their own testimony and journey in faith.
As I look back, I realize that some of my "old friends" were believers long before I made my own profession of faith. I remember one day looking at one of my school yearbooks and noticing a picture of the Young Life students group and I realized that many of the individuals in that picture are the ones with whom I have had connections throughout the years. I also realized that these were students whom I admired and appreciated while in high school, though at the time I really didn't know why. There was just something different about them. I now realize that it was because they had given their life to Christ and that He was living through them.
There are others, however, who made their own profession at some point during this 50 year journey. Like me, they were not Christians while in high school but somewhere along life's path they came to know the Lord in a personal way. As I have gathered for reunions it has been a joy to hear the testimonies of my classmates and feel even a closer bond as a result of our common faith.
For my life-long friends in both of these groups I am truly thankful, and I think we should continue to be thankful for friends (both new and old). But today I am especially thankful for the friends I've known throughout the years. It is truly a blessing when we are able to gather with "old friends" and I today I thank God for those special people who have been a part of my life journey.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.