[Y]esterday I had a wonderful conversation with my buddy Roy Cochran, a dear friend of mine who leads a ministry for worship leaders and artists called the Worship Mentor Network. We had just come from a Grove planning meeting with Monty Kelso and Sherri Alden (also dear friends!) at Hidden House Coffee for an upcoming Grove Worship Leader Getaway.
As we stood in the gardens on Los Rios Street just talking and watching the sun go down, the warm light danced through the sycamore and eucalyptus trees. It was one of those reflective moments framed by the gift of friends and the breathtaking beauty of the waning day. After a hug and a goodbye, I got in my car to get home before dark to take my seventh-grade son, Aidan, out with some friends for Halloween trick-n-treating. I called home to check in and what I heard next broke my heart…horrors of horrors on Halloween! Read on…
When I spoke to my wife Krista about Aidan’s plans for the evening, she said that he had no friends to go out with. Due to late planning and friends already getting together with other friends, Aidan was now the odd man out.
When I heard this news, I immediately felt a wave of sadness wash over me. No friends on Halloween? I also immediately went back to my junior high years when Halloween was such a fun time for me and my buddies, smashing pumpkins and all. I began to pray, “Lord, do something! Help Aidan find a friend!”
It was almost dark when I arrived home. Aidan and Krista were doing homework at our kitchen table. Aidan look quite glum and the mood was a bit graveyard-ish (take it from the son-of-a-mortician-that-I-am). I begin peppering questions, “What about this friend? Or this friend…or this one?” Krista shook her head. Not looking good.
No friends on Halloween and geography homework…fun!
“Hey, what about James from youth group?”
“I don’t have his phone number,” Aidan replied, pools of water brimming in his eyes.
I’m on it…I texted Riley, Aidan’s youth pastor and ping! Riley responded right back.
Aidan called James right away. The two 7th. graders mumbled on the phone for a minute.
Aidan hung up despondent. “He’s going out with friends.”
Aidan didn’t cry, but I could see Niagara Falls in his eyes.
Inside, I was dying. Something inside of me hit DEFCOM 5. I felt so bad for my son, knowing there was nothing I could do at this point.
Except to pray…again…Lord, I know Halloween isn’t your favorite holiday and all, but it would mean a lot to Aidan and I if…
Aidan picked up the phone. It was James. For whatever reason, his plans fell through and now he needed a friend!
Yes! Thank you Lord!
I picked up Chinese food. Krista helped Aidan whip up a quick Rastafari-dreadlock-surfer-dude outfit. James came over in full blown Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle regalia. We gobbled up the Chinese food and then it was out for the next couple hours. As I drove Aidan and James around San Clemente, hitting the choice neighborhoods where they give out the big candy bars, I felt giddy.
God, you’re so good. You see the heart of my son and you see my heart too.
As I wrote in my journal this morning, I asked the Lord what all those powerful emotions were about. What triggered me so strongly? Tenderly, He took me back to a place, many years ago when I was in junior and high school…five schools in six years. Lots of change in a short amount of time.
Oh yes Lord…I remember what longing for a friend is all about.
In my mind’s eye, I remember seeing Aidan and James walking down the street last night. Together side by side.
A Ninja Turtle and Rasta dude.
It made me grateful for God’s friendship. God the Father who hears our cries. Jesus, our friend who walks side by side. Holy Spirit, the living presence of God who lives in our heart.
Small gifts and generous swoops of grace. A light shining in the darkness of loneliness and darkness cannot overcome it.
I am so grateful for all the wonderful friends God has given me. Along with my wife and children, my greatest wealth is found in my friendships.
How about you?
Questions: How do you show gratefulness to your friends? When was the last time you told your friends how much you cherish their friendship? Why is this so important?
I’d love your comments and feedback.