“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
There were more than a few tears, and more hugs than I had seen in a long, long time. Old friends laughed and cried and someone said, “Welcome back.”
Welcome back, indeed. It reminded me of the words of the Psalmist, “How good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1
). Such unity is like oil running down the beard of the high priest or like the dew on Mount Hermon. It is a precious sign of the Lord’s blessing.
I was called to the meeting more as a moderator than anything else. At the beginning I reminded the group that it is the truth that sets us free. When the truth-telling began, so did the tears–not of anger but of sorrow and love and, yes, even tears of joy.
Then the hugging began in earnest. Big, enormous bear-hugs, the kind that almost take your breath away, the kind that says “I love you and I’m going to hang in there with you and we’re going to make it together.”
More tears. And smiles. And a voice behind me, a man’s voice, saying, “This is the work of the Holy Spirit.”
More voices talking. Confessions of failure and doubt. Jokes shared about the hard times behind us. Promises made to each other.
“What can we do to help you?” A good question and it brought forth a good answer, “Just listen to me when I need to talk out my problems.”
At the end we made three promises. First, to let the past be the past. Second, to lower our expectations of each other so we won’t be surprised when we aren’t perfect. Third, to hold each other accountable for our spiritual growth.
Then we held hands and prayed together. Every prayer came straight from the heart. When we finished there were more hugs, lots of laughter, gifts of love given to each one, and a sense that we had all been part of a miracle.
When I left they were still talking. The sound of joy rang in my ears as I walked to my car. The party was just beginning.
Solomon was right. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. We need each other, and we need each other more than we know.
Lord God, I thank You for the blessing of good friends, and I pray for the grace to be a good friend to others. Amen.
Ray Pritchard pastored in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. Married to Marlene for 38 years, he enjoys being a husband, a father and a grandfather, riding his bike, and playing with Dudley and Gary, beloved basset hounds.