We met each other in 1978 and became close during our late college years. Shortly after I moved on to youth ministry in Huntington Beach in 1980, Bob joined up with Wycliffe Bible Translators. He spent some years in linguistics schools, met his wife (also a translator), started a family, and has spent the past 30 years helping to translate the God’s Word for people groups on the other side of the world who have never read a Bible.
That’s a great story worth hearing about. But not today.
But this one is. Bob and I have not seen or talked to each other since the last time we were in a church camp together in 1984. Through the years, we have exchanged a few Christmas cards and some missionary newsletters. Once the internet was created, we sent some emails…but nothing very detailed.
The reality is we’ve both been pretty focused on where God planted us and investing in people we were sharing life with. As it should be.
I suppose that’s what made last Wednesday such a good evening.
Bob was in town for a conference with the Wycliffe affiliate he is working with these days. We had made plans several months ago to get together for dinner, if our schedules could match up.
I pulled up to the hotel and texted him that I was waiting out in front, by my jeep. As the lobby door opened, I recognized him immediately…just as he recognized me. Thirty years had changed some things in his appearance (mine, too), but not his eyes…and not his voice…and not the warm embrace.
He hopped into the jeep…well, he actually struggled into the jeep…his hip replacement hadn’t fully healed yet…(ah, old people problems) and within seconds, we had picked up immediately where we had left off thirty years previous. Amazing.
No small talk. No casual dancing. Straight to the heart. We spoke of our love of our families, of the church, of God’s Word, of the poor and oppressed, of Jesus. We dove quickly into the hurts and frustrations and fears and disappointments and mistakes in our lives. The conversation moved effortlessly. Joy mixed with sadness. Hope filled with reality. Much laughter. A few tears.
After 3-4 hours of conversation (encouraged by the ambiance of the smells and tastes of Hard Eight BBQ in Coppell), our evening ended as quickly as it had started. A quick drive back to the hotel, a good-bye hug and best wishes to our families, and a resolve not to let another thirty years pass before we shared brisket and our hearts again.
It was a great evening.
Do you have friendships like that in your life? People who demand life in the “deep end”? Friends who are not content with small talk, gossip, and petty? Real brothers (or sisters) that don’t demand the veneer of shallow, but quickly cut to the heart…no matter how much time has passed?
They don’t come easy. The cost is steep. But they are worth everything.
I wish them for you.
(If you felt like this was a “bait and switch” on the Calvinism thread, sorry. It will be back soon. This was just on my heart today…)