It was Friday, November 20th. I was in my yard doing some fall cleanup work, when I decided a tree was too close to my garage and needed to come down. Little did I know what that decision would lead to. The tree fell off my garage roof, then rolled off the roof and hit me full force. The result was that I spent 8 hours in the local emergency room while they attempted to stabilize me from a hemorrhage. I was then put on a medical flight to Seattle where I spent the next two week getting bolted back together.

My wife followed the ambulance into town, not knowing how serious this would be. All she had with her was her purse, with credit cards a few dollars. Little did she know that she would end up in Seattle with no money and no change of clothes or personal items.

Two days went by, and she existed only by the kindness of the Harborview staff.

Then, one day a friend showed up. This friend [really a close friend] had driven from her home here in Kalispell, had contacted our daughter to get into our home, and brought my wife all she needed to care for herself. That is not all. This friend had rented a motel a short distance from the hospital, and furnished transportation and comfort at this time of extreme stress. She stayed with my wife for two weeks, while I was hospitalized. Then, with my wife, followed the ambulance back to a rehab center here in town and became assured that my wife was safe back home.

That is a friend!

We all need friends in this life. It is desperate to live alone, having no resources. Gordon MacDonald, in his book “Restoring Your Spiritual Passion” reminds us of our need for friends. God reminded Adam, in Eden, telling him that it was not good for man to be alone. There are levels of friends, people we allow to be a part of our lives. I call these “special friends”, that I allow to come into my life.

One of the qualities of a special friend is that they see possibilities in my life that I cannot see. I live under a cloud of my own scrutiny and negative feelings of my own failures. I can become locked into negative feeling towards myself. My special friend does not look at me like this. They see more clearly into my life and see my talents rather that my failures. They then  have the courage to help me to walk down a new pathway. This friend is there to encourage me as I begin this new journey.

Another characteristic of a special friend is their ability to affirm me. This affirmation is not just “blowing smoke” to puff me up; but their affirmation is real. They have the courage to lift me up without the feeling that they are robbing themselves by encouraging me. There are people who cannot affirm another, neither their mate nor their children. They feel that by affirming others they are robbing themselves. These are insecure and selfish people, not special friends. We must be careful to be able to detect real affirmation from false affirmation. There are scammers today who do not mean what they say. They are leeches that attach themselves to my life.

It is also a special friend whom we allow to criticize certain things in our lives. None of us are perfect and we need others who can objectively look into our lives and care enough to carefully talk to us about negative things they see. One of the most sensitive areas of criticism is within our own family. We must be secure to allow a mate to talk to us about an issue that we cannot see. When we find ourselves being the critic, we must choose our words very carefully. We are not out to destroy but to attempt to get rid of the toxic characteristics. Only a special friend can do that.

There are a few special friends that could be classified as Intercessors. It is up to me to have the courage to share with my special friend very private issues in my life. I do this because I have the assurance that my friend will honestly intercede for me, and I can have the confidence that my sharing the need will not lead to gossip. Only a special friend has that kind of entry into my life. My wife’s mother “Teeny” was an intercessor. She lived into her 90’s and until the very end of her life she interceded on our behalf. After her memorial service in a little country church, I asked my wife, “who will intercede for us now like she did”? It takes a very special friend to step into the gap during the critical times of our lives and bring our needs to the throne. It takes honesty and vulnerability on our part to share these needs with a person that we know has that integrity. It  also adds security to our lives, knowing that we do not stand alone during these tragic times. These special friends hold us up just as Aaron and Joshua held up the hands of Moses, as the troops fought the Amalekites in the valley below. The power of intercessory prayer is being ignored in these troubled times we live in. Some of our battles are only fought as we go into hand-to-hand combat with our enemy.

Can a special friend eventually become a partner? I use that word very carefully, knowing how our culture will use it. If I can use an example of what I mean, it would be “The Billy Graham Team”. These were five men who for years became partners in a united appeal for world evangelism. I use the word “partner” in that sense. I’ve often heard leaders say, “There are no Lone Rangers in God’s work”. That is a true statement, and I use this word “partner” attempting to describe these special friends who through the test of time and trust, have become real partners with us. Partners who, in the sense of our goals, desires, and the game plans of our lives, are closely knit together with us. People who we know will not betray us
As I continue down this road of life, I find these special friends become fewer and fewer. Death, the enemy of all life, stalks us all. Special friends part, and as time travels always forward, even our mates and our families find their places in our memories. We live in a lonely world. We may be surrounded by people and yet be existing in a lonely world. That world will be lonelier still, if we shut the door of our lives and post a “no trespassing” sign, allowing few, if any, to enter the gates.

I know the answer to a special friend is Jesus, and He has walked with me down this road of life. However, as one man said to me many years ago, “sometimes I need a God with skin on it”, as he looked at me. I cannot be God, nor would I ever seek to take His place, but I can be a special friend.

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