Dave and I got to know one another, just slightly, when we were both students in seminary back in the late 70's. We didn't have all that much in common...we just happened to cross paths at Duke.
Herb and I first really hung out together at a National UM Youth Workers' Conference in Estes Park, Colorado, back around 1980. We climbed over boulders, looked down at the valley and up at the mountains, and thought about what the future could be in ministry. In life.
This week the three of us have been in Atlanta for a national preaching festival. Not as preachers or presenters. Nope. We are journeymen preachers but not special enough to merit much attention. With about one thousand others we have been gathering in the new, massive, Gothic-like sanctuary at Peachtree Road United Methodist.
We've heard some great preaching...and lectures. We just finished having lunch with Bishop Woodie White who -retired- lives and teaches here.
In a few hours we head back north.
Here is what I want you to know: hanging in there has its rewards.
There have been times when each one of us was so busy with our own challenges and agendas that it was tough even seeing one another. Contacts were more sporadic. Plans to get away for sermon planning or a continuing education event fell apart and we each kept working in our churches...or dealing with our families.
We hung in there, though. We didn't give up. Friendship is many things, but one of the things it certainly is is hanging in there.
Paul, in Romans 15, prays that God will give the people of Jesus "endurance and encouragmement." He prays they will have unity. And then, in verse 7, he prays that they will accept one another.
The three of us -and our buddy, Steve- work on one another. Coach one another. Confront one another. Along with the days and moments when we just listen and affirm and accept one another.
Our friendship has shown endurance. And that is something good.