Ships Passing In The Night

As we journey through life, we potentially cross paths with hundreds, if not thousands of people.  Having pastored six churches in three states, I have been privileged to meet and interact with more people than I can remember.  When individuals from my past ask me to friend them on Facebook, I often cannot remember them or which church they attended!

Similar to your experience, most people come and go for only brief periods.  Hopefully, the imprint of these encounters makes life more meaningful for these “ships passing in the night.”  This probably represents the largest convocation of human interaction.

Then we all have mere acquaintances.  We most likely spend the majority of our time with them – during school, on the job, at church, and perhaps some family members; but the outcome remains the same.  We again are “ships passing in the night.” No one with one hundred percent accuracy remembers conversations held, but we do remember how we were treated – the vibes we felt.  The acid test of any relationship is how we treat and are treated by one another.  Unfortunately, disloyalty and conditional acceptance usually characterize the outcome between acquaintances.  Not always, but usually. 

Then, we have friends at higher levels of interaction.  But perhaps we use the term “friend” too loosely.  The dictionary describes a friend as “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.”  Some we call friends may only qualify as “acquaintances” where interaction is sporadic.  Sadly, this is the plain on which most Christians live, and I think people in general.

Then comes our true friends – those who know us and still love us!  Those who long to be with us and anticipate our next interaction.  Those who perhaps are separated by distance and years pick up where they left off without skipping a beat.  Those who allow us to be the “real us” without judgment.  Those to whom we remain comfortable.  

Psychologists tell us that most people journey through life having no more than 2-3 close friends.  Few have “best friends.”  It is rare in today’s world to see time-tested long-term friendships still vibrant. The biblical story of David and Jonathan exemplifies this kind of unconditional loving relationship. These two men remained the truest of friends even when political and family rivalries threatened to separate them. In their case, blood was not thicker than water!

I have been blessed with several good friends over the years, but my wife remains my best friend.  After 47 years, I still love spending time with her.  When we’re apart, I look forward to seeing her again!  Often, we sit in the same room without speaking.  We communicate through silence, all the while feeling comfortable and unthreatened by that silence.  Sometimes silence is the gauge of a solid, heart-rending friendship.  

Typically, people move throughout their lives like “ships passing in the night.”  Some stay in the harbor for longer periods; and then, still others – the minority – sail through life together.  Storms toss and batter, quiet tides provide sacred life moments, and build “forever-ness.”  

Finally, still waters usher them into solid contemplation.  Life has favored them with true friends.  These friendships take them past the horizon of life temporarily into the unknown and then into life eternal.  Love conquers all.   

Real friendships last forever! Christian artist Michael W. Smith wrote, “Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them…”  Life is best lived when true friends include the Lord in their interactions. 


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