• 68°

Tim Throckmorton: Remembering the friends who have left the mortal plane

I really don’t know why they are still in there.

I haven’t erased them and, for some reason, I just can’t. It’s at least once a week when, while perusing through the contacts on my Iphone, I glance at one or two.

I’m talking about phone numbers of those old friends who have already graduated to Heaven. What does occur when one comes into view is the quick reminder of a cherished friendship and sometimes even a lesson or two learned and still remembered.

Ulysses S. Grant once remarked… “The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.”

We remember and cherish the friends who were with us in good times and bad.

God has blessed our lives with the priceless gift of friendships.

Chuck Swindoll writes, “During his days as president, Thomas Jefferson and a group of companions were traveling across the country on horseback. They came to a river that had left its banks because of a recent downpour. The swollen river had washed the bridge away. Each rider was forced to ford the river on horseback, fighting for his life against the rapid currents. The very real possibility of death threatened each rider, which caused a traveler who was not part of his or her group to step aside and watch. After several had plunged in and made it to the other side, the stranger asked President Jefferson if he would ferry him across the river. The president agreed without hesitation. The man climbed on, and shortly thereafter the two of them made it safely to the other side.

As the stranger slid off the back of the saddle onto dry ground, one in the group asked him, “Tell me, why did you select the president to ask this favor of?”

The man was shocked, admitting he had no idea it was the president who had helped him.

“All I know,” he said, “Is that on some of your faces was written the answer ‘No,’ and on some of them was the answer ‘yes.’ His was a ‘Yes’ face.” Perhaps that’s why the writer in the book of Proverbs tells us, “A friend loveth at all times.”
Sometimes the number on the screen of my phone causes me to hearken back to lessons I’ve learned and sound advice shared by an old friend.

I remember years ago standing with a crowd of young ministry couples preparing to walk nervously into an Ordination service. One of the seasoned church leaders waxed eloquent sharing a bit of wisdom which he had gleaned from years in ministry and whether he was aware or not that bit of advice has anchored itself to our minds.

His wise counsel was… “Watch what you bleed for.”

Boy, that has stuck in my mind and I can’t begin to tell you the number of times when faced with tough days and big decisions that little bit of wisdom kept me focused and gave me clarity of thought.

Automaker Henry Ford asked electrical genius Charlie Steinmetz to build the generators for his great factory.

One day, the generators ground to a halt, and the repairmen couldn’t find the problem.

Ford called Steinmetz, who came and tinkered with the machines for a few hours and then threw the switch. The generators whirred to life. Ford got a bill for $10,000 from Steinmetz. Flabbergasted, the rather tightfisted carmaker inquired why the bill was so high.

Steinmetz’s reply: For tinkering with the generators, $10. For knowing where to tinker, $9,990.

Ford paid the bill! Oh the blessing of wisdom and experience passed along to a friend.

And isn’t it amazing how God can immediately recall for us with the slightest nudge or the name on a phone a memory of that friend’s influence on our lives.

Which reminds me—you and I are influencing others each and every day, leaving memories in someone’s mind, if not in their phones. May what we impart to others who follow be memorable and filled with Godly wisdom.

The need of friends is more important now that perhaps ever before in our lifetimes.

Robert Nicholson, in the Wall Street journal writes, “Life had been deceptively easy until now… We float through an anomalous world of air conditioning, 911 call centers, acetaminophen and pocket-size computers containing nearly the sum of human knowledge. We reduced nature to ‘the shackled form of a conquered monster,’ as Joseph Conrad once put it, and took control of our fate. God became irrelevant… But the pandemic has humbled the country and opened millions of eyes to this risky universe once more… For societies founded on the biblical tradition, cataclysms need not mark the end. They are a call for repentance and revival.”

Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

Of all the friends you will have in this life, may you know and serve the One who will be there to welcome you in the next.

Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council.