The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Never abandon a friend—either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away. [Proverbs 27:9-10 (NLT)]
Novelist Salman Rushdie said, “In the cookie of life, friends are the chocolate chips.” I agree. Granted, life can be as pleasant as a plain sugar cookie but, when you add chocolate chips to the batter or friends to the mix, it becomes something extra special.
Today happens to be National Chocolate Chip Day. (We can celebrate again on August 4—the official National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day.) Although she didn’t invent friendship, Ruth Wakefield invented both chocolate chips and chocolate chip cookies when she added pieces of a Nestlé chocolate bar to her “Butter Do Drop” cookie recipe in 1930. It wasn’t until 1939, however, that Nestlé actually started manufacturing those beautiful teardrop-shaped morsels.
Fortunately, God didn’t wait until 1939 to invent friends! Knowing it wasn’t good for “man to be alone,” He created us for connection and gave us friends. He blessed Adam with Eve, Lot with Abraham, Moses with Aaron, and Joshua with Caleb.
When Satan took away Job’s family, wealth, and health, Job’s friends remained. Even though their theology was flawed, they kept Job company and tried to comfort him in his pain and sorrow. When Joseph was imprisoned, he was blessed by friendships with the warden and Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker. David was blessed by good friends like Jonathon, Nathan, and even the loyal Philistine Ittai. Naomi was blessed by Ruth’s friendship as was Elijah by Elisha’s. During the Babylonian exile, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were united in their friendship and faith. Matthew invited his friends for dinner with Jesus and Martha, Mary, and Lazarus welcomed their friend Jesus into their home. Even though they didn’t always agree, Paul’s good friends included Barnabas, John Mark, Silas, Epaphroditus, Timothy, Priscilla, and Aquila.
“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold,” goes the old song. Indeed, old friends are as precious as gold and, next week, we hope to spend a little time with some golden ones. We met 45 years ago while skiing in Michigan and continued our friendship on the mountains of Colorado. Although 2,000 miles separate us and we no longer ski, our friendship remains. Love, laughter, faith, and a heap of great memories connect us. We’ll treasure our brief reunion as we thank God for the chocolate chips He scattered through our lives.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the people who befriended us—the ones who taught and inspired us, encouraged and challenged us, laughed and cried with us, and taught us how to laugh at ourselves and life’s uncertainties. Thank you for the friends who daily provide examples of how life should be lived and for the friends who answer our questions and question our answers. Thank you for those who sought us when we were lost, provided directions, and welcomed us back when we finally returned. Thank you for those who recognized what was wrong in our lives (even when we didn’t) and gently opened our eyes to what we needed to see. Thank you for blessing us with friends who have openly shared their lives and who, in turn, have listened and loved and prayed for us. Thank you for the friends who continue to walk with us, steady us when we stumble, lift us when we fall, and carry us when we think we can go no further. Thank you, Lord, for the best friend you have given each and every one of us: your son Jesus Christ.
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. [Marcel Proust]