God brought our family to a new church two and a half years ago. Prior to that, we had been grounded in a fellowship for close to fourteen years that we simply outgrew. It was a difficult parting in that we still dearly loved our church family there. But it was a small fellowship, and we needed the room to grow.
Our new church fits that need. But with coming to a large church, there is the challenge of meeting, and making new friends. We've done that through our small groups meetings, but still miss the constant, daily contact with brothers and sisters, as well as leadership, that we've been used to for well over a decade.
The Sunday prior to a recent church/civic outreach project, was a difficult one for me particularly. Challenges with finding a job, finances, and our pastor reading my mail with his sermon on forgiveness, left me with very heavy heart by the end of the service. I desperately felt I needed to talk to someone, but with the groups gathering around our pastors available at services end, I knew a chance to talk with one couldn't be personal, and would be very brief, if at all. After hesitating for a moment or two, my wife and I began to leave the sanctuary.
I had only made it a few rows towards the back when I was completely engulfed in sorrow. Sobbing I sought a seat, and with my wife sitting beside me, holding my hand, I poured out my heart in tears. Moments passed before I could regain my composure enough to choke out, "I miss my friends".
Those kinds of friends that call you when they haven't heard from you in hours, not days. The type of friends that seek you out in the middle of the night because they need to hear a reassuring voice, or to pass on wonderful news that can't wait till daylight. The kinds of friends that will sit with you for hours after a service and talk through yours, or their, hurts, needs or just plain thoughts.
With my wife laying her head on my shoulder, and patting my knee, I finally dried my eyes, and nose. We made our way out of the sanctuary, turned towards the front entrance doors, and stepped straight into the path of one of our pastors. He asked me how we were doing, I said not well, and he said come see me. He gave me his card, asked me to call and schedule an appointment, (which I have, and met) and we would talk. To me, that was an instantaneous answer to a heartfelt plea.
Later that afternoon, we made our way to our favorite lunch spot. A place we have been going to for several years. There, we ran into not just one, but several of the families that we attended church with for years. Some of the best, and oldest friends that I have. We were able to say hello to them, as well as their children that had grown so much in three years.
During the following week of the outreach event, working closely with a brother in our church, who was instrumental in making it all happen, I realized that circumstance had brought forward a new friend. We share a common past, ideals, and a love for God, and His family.
This week, having time to myself to contemplate the last few days, weeks, months, and years, it was like God Himself had heard the cry of my heart, “I miss my friends!”, and placed them, old and new, immediately in my path. Now if that isn’t “God”, then He didn’t make little green apples, as the song goes……