The first call came when I was out of the country. It was a request for prayer. I promised not only to pray but make a visit as soon as I returned home. The second call came in less than a week – from his sister – one year ago this past week. Unfortunately, my promised visit would be to conduct his funeral. When I was fourteen years old my pastor-father changed churches and I was not happy – leaving my friends, changing schools, changing churches, etc. I dutifully went to Sunday School on the first Sunday and took a seat in the only empty chair in the room of unfamiliar boys. The one next to me said, “Hi, I’m Jimmie Don.” Thus began a friendship that lasted sixty years – through baseball & basketball, car-pooling, double dating, groomsman at my wedding, Vietnam, his post -Vietnam marital difficulties, car sales (him to me), phone calls, birthday calls every year on Pearl Harbor Day with a comment of how easy it was to remember his birthday, High School reunions, prayer times, long conversations about life and eventually about death. Jimmie Don Ulrich was my friend. I miss him. Friendships are a wonderful part of life, often taken for granted until it is too late to appreciate them. Proverbs 29:9 speaks of the sweetness of friendship. So if you have a really close friend, recognize them as such, communicate with them, and appreciate them. Enjoy the sweetness of friendship – while there is yet time to do so.
Dr. Dan Crawford, Senior Professor at Southwestern Baptist Seminary, is the WestCoast Baptist Association’s Spiritual Life & Leadership Mentor. Follow Dan on Twitter @DrDanRC and Facebook www.facebook.com/dan.crawford.