Now & Later – Part 3 of 4

So where was I?

Oh yes! Now and Later candy. Yummy. Can use, re-use… even re-re-use.

Only thing is – it will screw up your dental work! Man I could tell you stories of when our mouths would lock up during a Now & Later chewing episode. I remember I used to get scared as I would be chewing away and then after stopping for a rest, my teeth would suddenly bond! I tried and tried to re-open my mouth. But to no avail! The Now & Later candy had fused my teeth together! Lowers stuck to uppers forever and ever AMEN!

I remember in my wonder years that this would almost send me into panic attack – wondering would I ever be able to eat again. Or would I have to get a pry bar and rip it all apart and sort my extracted teeth out later!

I think they could use Now & Later candy as a NASA commercial-grade glue on the space shuttle. Or maybe as a fastener for high speed engines in NASCAR. The stuff is beyond sticky. I could take you to my parents home where we grow up and show you the Now & Later spots in their carpet where that stuff fell, never to be retrieved again. Once it sticks, that’s it until Jesus comes back!

So likewise should great friends stick together.

Friends are to be friends forever (as the Michael W. Smith song says), but many times we just move on to the new friends. Right? “Old friends, meh… what do we need them for? Their OLD!” We want NEW everything in America.

The value of old friends however, goes far beyond the “honeymoon phase”…

Proverbs 17:9 says “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” (New NIV)

I recall a time I was struggling with an offense that a very dear friend had done to me. It was quite severe, at least to me and how I experienced it on the receiving end. But at the same time, the close friend that committed this act against me very likely didn’t realize it, and possibly was going through enormous pressure with other things that were tearing their personal life apart at that time. Even though I knew this, the offense still was very real and raw and I pulled away from this friend for a couple years. We didn’t even speak; which was mostly on my end, since the friend would sometimes try to reach out in small ways.

But I wanted them to apologize.

Then I read this verse in Proverbs 17:9 (CAUTION: Beware of just randomly reading your Bible on a given day! You will get hit with a truth bomb like a submarine running into an enemy depth charge! Ha ha. Just kidding. That’s the goal, right?).

I thought about my friend immediately as the Holy Spirit brought… not really conviction, but just a very sweet reasoning. “So Jeff, you and this person were amazing friends for a long time, right?” I had to admit we were. “This person has done more for you than almost anyone has in your entire life.” I thought, yes that is true. Then this douzy hit me – “Jeff, this friend will never ask for forgiveness for this sin. It was way off their radar screen at the time. You do need to forgive them. They did sin against you. But it was more of an unconscious act on their part. They won’t ever understand your side. And it happened several years ago. They wont remember the details of it. Is it worth it to let this sin separate you two forever?”

I had to admit that I valued the friendship much more than holding on to the offense. So I contacted my friend.

To this day we are good friends and our relationship is back on track. I think I would have lost that friendship forever. And NO – I did not bring up that offense!

Maybe you are not like me, maybe you cannot forgive sins that are committed against you by someone close to you. Some sins are obviously much more severe in consequence. But also it is true that EVERY GREAT RELATIONSHIP will be tested by potential offenses on both parties. No one is perfect.

The skill of friendship lies in being able to forgive, as well as communicate offenses in a loving way when its appropriate. This verse suggests as well that their are some offenses that should not even be communicated, just forgiven and forgotten.

We can talk about boundaries and earning the right to be brought into a closer circle of depth in regards to friendships. But for certain kinds of issues, we sometimes need to just move on, and love, and forgive and just – DROP IT ALREADY!

Tune in next time as I address NOW & LATER – PART 4 of 4!


Now and Later – Part 2 of 4

So, back to the spit…

It may have been superstition, but we believed swallowing a brother’s spit was akin to the grossest possible scenario – and always produced the automatic vomit trigger in the bowels of any sibling who ever tried such heretical shenanigans. If it was spit upon – then no matter how much it was wanted or desired by another, it quickly became poisonous dreck – and was shunned at once.

I digress for a moment to let you understand how gross NOW and LATERS were if ever swallowed by another sibling.

I know some people who will eat food like that; they will eat some at the coffee shop, wrap it up and save the rest in a napkin. Then a day later, they will pull the napkin out with the slightly crusty item and nibble some more. Then, two days later, they go to the movies with a friend and sneak that crusty, napkin-wrapped thing in with them to munch on during the flick.

Now I’m all for saving some goodies for later but, that’s just flat-out weird.

The thing I liked about NOW & LATERS was that you could, in theory, eat some now and wrap up the remainder for later, and no one would be the wiser.

I was thinking about this concept lately with regard to how we treat our friends. Many people today have friends for a awhile, and then when they are done with them, that friendship is basically discarded. You know, they are friends for NOW, but not for LATER. The excuse is often something like “Well I can’t be everybody’s friend.” or “I moved to a new town. What do you expect from me?”

Hey, I understand completely. I have been a pastor in 6 different congregations, some of those were way over 1000 regular attenders. I have thousands and thousands of people who might be considered friends (even more if you consider Facebook. I have tried to keep those “friends” down in number on FB as it is) so I do understand that you cannot cultivate a hundred, a thousand, even fifty close friendships. You really can only build and grow a handful at a time. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot consider all of the other friends your friends.

For a few others, once a friend, always a friend. I like the idea of having a lot of friends. I don’t need to cultivate most of those friendships anymore. Once they grow to a certain point, friends for life; as far as I am concerned. Now everyone doesn’t need to be like me. You can choose to have as many friends as you want.

But here is my BEEF – those who use their friends when they are needed NOW, and then toss those friends as soon as their “usefulness” has passed, I really don’t think that is cool. And I know that friends who feel tossed to the side after a deep and mutually benefiting relationship had been built do not think that is cool either.

So the question is, when it comes to friendship, are you a “Now & Later” friend, or just a “Now” friend?

More to come in Part 3 and Part 4 of “Now and Later”

Keep smiling,