I had the chance to hang out with old friends tonight. Tim and Niki are in town from California, so he arranged a little get-together to catch up. You may remember Tim, the long haired Presbyterian who rides a motorcycle. Brett is an old buddy who went to Moody with some of us, and now lives north of Rockford. I've known Chris since we were in elementary school. He was the first guy I ever saw reading the Bible, and one of the first to share Christ with me. Chris is now a teacher at Grace. Jason, like the rest, goes way back with some of the guys. He and his wife Winona were missionaries in Jordon before returning to the US and joining Grace. Jason is one of our elders.
It was nice sitting together, talking, sharing the good and the ugly parts of our lives. I wish we had more time together because saying goodbye is always hard. It reminded me of an entry in George Whitefield's journal. Before he left London for the first time, he gathered some friends together to hang out and pray. Leaving them was hard for the young preacher who was heading to America. But his thoughts didn't linger on his own temporal loss. He wrote, "If parting from a few earthly friends for a season be so grievous, how will the wicked bear to be parted from God and good men for all eternity!"
Part of the terror of hell is isolation from "God and good men," and part of the blessings of heaven is the community of God and good men. It makes me want to make the most of the friendships I have, while seeking to help others find that community while they can.