Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Read I Samuel 18 and John 15

The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David; and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. I Samuel 18:1

Friendship makes life good for all sorts of creatures and at every stage of life. Months before a child learns to talk, he learns to make friends. And, if you go to a nursing home, you will see friends enjoying  friends.

My most unusual friend was Ralph. I was pretty annoyed when he told me one day that he had chosen me to be his friend, and then explained why he had made such a choice. It was a spiritual discipline. He had been convicted by our Lord’s commandment to, “love your enemies.” What had he done to love his enemies? Nothing, so he looked around for the person he disliked the most, and he chose me!

Of all the groups that hung about together in college, Ralph felt my group to be the most superficial and the least friendly. And, after analyzing each one in our group, Ralph found me to be the worst of this bad bunch. (My old college roommate still shudders when he remembers Ralph.)

But before Ralph had explained this to me, he had become my friend. We had gone out to Oregon together to help a couple of our college professors put together a site for a college extension program. Every day Ralph made sure he sat next to me whenever there was sitting to do and Ralph made sure he worked with me on whatever project we could do together.

During this time I learned all about Ralph’s childhood as a missionary kid in Africa. His parents had a passion for bringing the gospel to places where people had never seen a white person before. So wherever they went, all the kids wanted to touch and poke Ralph to see if he was real. Ralph was a romantic. He believed God delighted in beauty and he believed the best way to show our love for God was to delight in all He had made. His idealism was off the charts. To Ralph, any type of show or anything that hinted of hypocrisy was anathema.

One day he said to me, “Larry, I actually like you.” That was not news to me. Ralph was my best friend. We had a great time together. Both of us were up for anything. He loved to work and loved to hike and so did I. Our discussions were sincere and intense, but never was there an argumentative spirit between us. I’m sure today he would still be my best friend, but he was killed in a car accident when he and his wife went back to visit friends in Africa. His wife later wrote me that immediately before the fatal accident, Ralph had been reminiscing about his good friend Larry Rodgers.

You never know who God will gift you with as a friend. King Saul could not believe Jonathan had chosen David, the one who would usurp his throne. Jonathan had no regrets, no second thoughts about his friend. He knew their friendship was the best of the good gifts that God is so gracious in giving to us here on planet earth.

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