Friends Forever

This week I ordered a jacket online.  I don’t ever do this, but it caught my eye, not only because I was browsing thru the website of my old friend, and it was unusual and beautiful (and reasonably priced), but because it brought with it a bushel of happy memories.

You see, when I was about 7, I had a best friend.  Her name was Janice, and we were to become lifelong friends.  She and I went thru grade school and then junior high.  We each had little dog dolls that we made elaborate homes for in our desks, and probably got every Girl Scout badge that was created.    Later on, because we had the feelings but not the intestinal fortitude to draw blood, we screwed up all the courage we could muster and dug a hole on the playground and there, by solemn oath, became ’spit sisters’ by taking turns expectorating into the frozen soil.

Years passed, and although every summer after Bible camp, I would feel so guilty that my friend wasn’t a Christian, I would grab up a wad of tracts and send them (anonymously) her way.  The last time I saw her was on the eve of her wedding to a very nice hippy boy. They said that the wind was calling them to the west and I knew I’d never see her again.  I cried all the way home.

Imagine my surprise several years latter when, as a young missionary in Africa, I received a very tattered letter, covered with a mosaic of stamps.  It had gone to the mission board and then literally all around the world till it reached me.  It read something like this,

“All those things you used to tell me finally soaked in. My husband and I were living in a cabin in western Colorado when he, recalling his Christian childhood, called out  ’God, either make something of me or take my life!’  The next morning we wandered into town and through the doors of a little church.  A few months later I became a Christian and he renewed his commitment … and now we’re the youth ministers at the church!”

What a wonderful end to the story you think, but it gets better.  We got together from time to time after that and found that we had an instant kinship.  By then we had become missionaries to Japan and hardly ever got to see them, but when we did, the visits were rich.  They climbed thru the ranks of Baptists in Colorado, becoming the people you may know today as the great team for God that they’ve become.

Back in Japan I was teaching one of my ubiquitous English Bible classes when my most promising student announced that she’d be moving to Tokyo indefinitely.  I encouraged her to find a church, and as she nodded assent, the look in her eyes told me that that was the least thing on her mind.  I cried again on the way home.  ”Lord, what’s the use?”  I complained.  ”I invest my time, I put it out there for them, but they just aren’t interested!

When I got home, there was a package waiting.  It was from Janice: a lovely cross stitched picture with a poem about friendship.  I read it to myself, but I couldn’t hear the words in my brain because God seemed to be saying, “Marsha, when will you learn that I NEVER let people go!  Remember long ago when you thought you ‘lost’ Janice? I knew right where she was, and now she’s Mine.  Don’t you worry about Sachiko, because she’s in my hands too”

I don’t know what happened to Sachiko but that cross stitched picture hangs on my wall even today.  It’s there to remind me not to be too anxious about ‘losing’ people, because God never does.

And now back to my mail order this week.  How was I to know that the order and the note from me was delivered to Janice on her Birthday!  Maybe God was giving her a little pat on the back just when she needed it too!

As a shameless advertisement, have a look at the stuff she’s selling.  Too bad you missed the jacket!

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