Barry & Nancy Lamb
Roger Frimpong – a long time ago!

How far will you go to see a friend? I made it all the way to Leicester last Thursday! Impressed?

The mileage may not have been all that impressive, but the men I met were. To give you a sense of the significance of the occasion we need to go back a decade or so.

For those of you not in the know, in 2003 the church I serve had…let’s call it…a maturing moment. Anyway, we all became extremely busy trying to sort out what babies looked like and the difference between them and bathwater.

There was not a lot of cooperation between the then 10 congregations in London. I imply no criticism, but I felt I was missing something. I needed to see people from other ministries for friendship, support and spiritual encouragement. An invitation was extended to meet every first Tuesday evening of the month. Our location was the now defunct church office.

I went to the first meeting not knowing who might be there. Who turned up? Amongst a few others, Barry Lamb and Roger Frimpong. We carried on meeting, month after month and year after year. On some occasions we had 30 people in the room. On others, there were just myself, Roger, Barry and Phil Miller. If someone had been keeping a register then these three men would have made the most appearances.

I’ll be honest. Those were dark days. Perhaps the darkest of my Christian life so far. It was hard to hold on to hope. It seemed impossible to see a way that God could bring good out of the situation. Faith was in short supply. But these three wise men lived out this scripture:

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17 NIV11)

I felt the love of God through Barry, Roger and Phil. Month after month they affirmed their support and acceptance, and the feeling was mutual. We certainly didn’t agree on everything, but we did see eye-to-eye on one thing – that we needed one another and that we were going to extend the unconditional love of God to each other the best we knew how.

Those troubled days are behind us, God has done His healing work, and there are fresh learning days ahead. Our life paths have diverged, but spiritual friendship remains. I don’t remember whose idea it was, but a certain centripetal force seemed to be drawing us back together. Barry came to Watford, I picked him up and we drove to Leicester to see Roger. We sat in a shopping centre drinking tea and coffee and talked for 5 hours. Barry and I talked for another 4 hours in the car. There was barely a lull in the conversation. The time vanished in a blur. What happened?

We were enjoying what the Psalmist wrote of: “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” (Psalms 133:1 NLT)

These are men with whom I trust my most personal secrets. They were there for me in tough times, I hope to be there for theirs. For, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 NIV11)

Towards the end of our five hours together we asked one another what we thought we might be doing in 10 years’ time.  We just laughed. The absurdity of thinking we might possibly know where our lives will be in a decade was obvious to us as we considered how none of even vaguely considered that we’d be doing what we are today. Instead we contented ourselves with worrying only about today (Matt 6.33) and being grateful that God had blessed us with such amazing friends.

Sorry, Phil, that you couldn’t join us! Don’t worry, we’re planning another reunion in London soon that you’ll be able to attend.

Do you have a story of special friendship? Leave a comment and encourage us all.

I hope you have a wonderful week.

God bless, Malcolm