Friday, January 1, 2010

My Forever Friend!

As we stand at the threshold of another new year, no, new decade, I can’t help but reflect on my journey and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I daresay some of you that read this may identify with the sentiments expressed a lot more than others, and that’s perfectly alright. The vicissitudes of my life are testimony to the fact that the start of a new year or new decade in some ways reminds me of the NFL football playoffs. No matter what your regular season record is, once you make it into the playoffs you all have an even playing field and a clean slate. To their chagrin, the New England Patriots discovered that fact two years ago when, following a perfect regular season record, they lost the Superbowl to the recalcitrant but intrepid New York Giants. Their regular season record did nothing to deter the New York Giants from believing that they could beat the Patriots in the Superbowl.

The journey of life is fraught with changing circumstances and while we may attempt to level the playing field by adopting and adapting to certain systems, the reality is that systems are static and unchanging yet life and people are dynamic. This means that we must -- while adapting to proven systems that make life work in general -- be willing to adapt even more to our ever changing environment. The start of a new year affords us a clean slate and an opportunity to “win the big game” inspite of how average or mediocre our past year might have been. One of the more profound truths (amongst numerous others) that I’ve learned over the last decade is that many relationships are transient. Recognizing this truth has freed me from the paroxysms of self-inflicted recrimination. Most friendships are in your life for a season and are designed to shape you for that season and that season only. Confused yet? Don’t be, I’m going somewhere with this.

In the last few days of 2009 I watched the Lord of The Rings trilogy (three of my most favorite movies of all time), and there was one particular phrase that stood out to me the most, and I haven’t been able to shake it. Before I tell you what the phrase is let me set the table: Frodo Baggins and Sam Wise Gamgee (his appointed and trusted traveling companion) are on a quest to take the one surviving ring that can destroy the world and the age of men and return it to the fires of Mordor where it was formed, so it can be destroyed once and for all. Their journey is fraught with intrigue, danger, betrayal and incessant twists and turns. Towards the end of the journey, the dolorous assignment leaves Frodo so beaten down by the “weight” of the ring that he collapses and is unable to move a muscle. Then Sam steps in to save the day. The very same Sam whom Frodo had at different points along the journey turned against, declares these haunting words in reference to the weight of the ring, “I can’t carry it for you Mr. Frodo, but I can carry you.”

There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother declares the writer of Proverbs18: 24. Sam Wise, in that season of Frodo’s life, became the living example of that profound truth. I’m truly grateful for the friends that I’ve encountered along my journey. They made the journey worthwhile. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned through watching so many friends that were in my life for a particular season. But most of all I’m grateful for my wife. She has been my “Sam Wise Gamgee” through the arduous journey of planting a church and dealing with all the attendant twists and turns that come with that calling. I know, I know, some of you are a little frustrated because you thought I was going to talk about Jesus being that friend. Well, the truth is that there are moments along my journey when I needed a friend that could physically hold me and reassure me that I wasn’t going insane. My wife Sola was that friend, my forever friend. I’m persuaded that we are nearing our “Mordor” so that we can discard the ring that has threatened to sink us one time too many.

So my prayer for you this year is that you have a friend in your life that stays for all seasons. A friend who loves you because of and inspite of you. A friend that will eat a bowl of salt with you grain by grain. I pray you have a fulfilling and successful 2010.


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Bret said...

That 2nd paragraph was a lot to chew on.....had to read it twice. The sentence "profound truths (amongst numerous others) that I’ve learned over the last decade is that many relationships are transient. Recognizing this truth has freed me from the paroxysms of self-inflicted recrimination."

Whoa...... I had to read that at least 3 times. You put into words what I've thought but could never say so eloquently. My next thought was why is it that way?Especially in the church.

I thought of Proverbs 31:10-31 when you were rightly praising your wife Sola.

You are blessed Joseph! (But you already knew that)

Joseph said...

Bret, I know you, so I know that you're selling yourself short when you say that you could never say the same thing so eloquently. Sadly, you're right about the truth of transient relationships being more evident in the Church than in most other places. I am however grateful that my wife, as indeed is yours, is truly a Proverbs 31 woman! :)