Who’s stretcher would you carry?

Do you remember when you were little and you felt like you needed to rank your friends? I can clearly remember being in 3rd grade and making a list of my “1st Best Friend” and my “2nd Best Friend.” I remember having details about why each friend ranked where they did. One sat next to me at lunch, or one played the best games at recess.

As we grow older, the friendships grow a little deeper. Instead of being based on games played at recess, they become based on life experiences. Our friends tell us about ourselves, maybe more than we realize.

When we were young, our parents chose our friends for us, typically based on who their friends are, or activities that we are in. As we grow, we start to develop friendships on our own. The hope of parents is that we will take the lessons they have taught us as to what a good friend is, and develop healthy relationships.

I recently heard a high school student say that they were not friends with someone, and the basis was that both parties had become busy and they did not spend as much time together.

Isn’t it funny that in our youth, the quantity of time overrules quality?

Something seems to change when we become adults. There is a shift that happens.

I have friends that I do not see on a regular basis. Sometimes weeks, months, and sadly, even years can go past without us being in the same place together. These people are no less my friends.

It seems that as adults we come to the understanding “I’m busy, you’re busy. We’re cool.”

Instead of having our friends ranked, we tend to have them in different categories. There are the friends we tell our troubles to, the ones we go the movies with, the ones who are the best to road trip with.

Sometimes they are all the same, sometimes they are not, but they are still our friends.

When life gets hard, as we all know that it does, these are the people who we call.

Several years ago I heard a sermon on the man whose friends carried him on a stretcher to see Jesus. The friends believed so much in the power of Jesus that they carved a literal hole in the roof of the house to lower their friend just so that Jesus would touch him, heal him (Luke 5:18-20).

When most of us here this story, we think “who would carry my stretcher?” I remember clearly that day the pastor saying, “Ask yourself this, whose stretcher would you carry?” He challenged those in attendance to stop and evaluate who they have poured enough of themselves into that they would go to those lengths to help a friend.

I have had friends drop what they are doing to take my sick child home from school when I could not.

I have had friends who literally crawled under the covers with me to cry when the pain of divorce was too much to get out of bed.

I have a “best friend” from back in school. We meet once a year to have dinner. It’s a long dinner, but it is still only once a year.

I have had friends who I have laughed with and cried and even fought with.

These are the people who make us who we are.

These are the people that whether it be a few days, a few weeks, or a few years, being with them is being home.

They center us. They ground us. They know us. They love us. And we love them.

I no longer rank my friends on a sheet of lined paper. They know me. I know them. The love is there even when the time is long and the miles are great.

That’s how you know. When after all that time, you see them and your spirit sort of says, “oh, there you are,” and you are at peace.

Find the people who give your spirit peace, who give your soul strength. These people are your tribe. Once that tribe is formed, it takes more than miles and time to tear it apart.

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