A dear friend is one of life’s greatest gifts, one of life’s greatest blessings. I can chart so much of my life, my personal growth, through these precious relationships, these precious friendships. So many times these faithful friends have given wisdom at a moment of weakness, help in a time of trial, strength that is not my own.
I sit here in my little office, surrounded by my books, for books are among my dearest friends. David Gentry once said, “True friendship comes when the silence between two people is comfortable.” Few things are more comfortable, more enjoyable, than sitting among these friends. It is like a party for introverts, where no one has to say a word and there is not a single moment of awkwardness. The silence is beautiful.
I sit here and I survey my friends, counting my blessings.
Two of my first friends were Ashamed of the Gospel and Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace?. Both came into my life on the very same day. The first challenged me, calling me away from a church where the gospel was minimized and to a church where the gospel was right at the very center. The second challenged me to recover those great doctrines of the Reformation I had once held dear but had begun to forget.
Lenski said, “It is the best and truest friend who honestly tells us the truth about ourselves even when he knows we shall not like it.” One of my closest friends, The Holiness of God, loved me enough to level with me and tell me I had far too low a view of God. He encouraged me to see God as so much bigger and higher and brighter. I have spent many afternoons in his company, learning, growing, being challenged anew.
I glance over and see my friend The Cross of Christ, who caused me to see the darkness of my sin against the light of the cross. Nearby is the steadiest of my friends, Systematic Theology, which time and time again has strengthened me, has given me boundaries, has helped me better understand myself and my God. Nearby are my church historian friends who remind me that no experience I face is new, but each trial, each temptation, each struggle, has faced Christians before.
Then I spot The Call, the first book I ever read with a group of fellow Christians, meeting together each week, well before the sun came up, to discuss and apply and appreciate. Those were precious times.
Across the room I see commentaries, experts on one book of the Bible or another, friends who have jumped into my life for a time to guide me through a difficult passage or to come alongside me as I’ve prepared a sermon or a whole series of sermons. Their wisdom has been my delight. Faithful God has been a precious companion in these times; so too have been Waltke’s two volumes on Proverbs and Duguid’s Esther & Ruth.
And then there is Overcoming Sin & Temptation and The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment and The Bruised Reed, friends from a different era whose timeless wisdom continues to challenge me. Not far off is Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, who began as a friend of friends but has now become an intimate in his own right.
Gathered together near the door are new friends, ones I have only just been introduced to, but ones I am certain will be precious soon enough, as soon as we have the opportunity to get to know one another better.
These few precious moments mark a reunion of old friends. I sit back, I enjoy the silence, and savor the company of companions who have changed my life.