One of my favorite verses growing up was Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.” As a small child I was encouraged by the this type of loyalty. At summer camp, we sang the famous Michael W. Smith words “Friends are friends forever if the Lord's the Lord of them…” I had high hopes for friendships.

However, as an adolescent and young adult, I was discouraged to find this type of friendship is rarely the case. More often than not we are friends when it is convenient or mutually beneficial; but when the friendship fire begins to die, most of us tend to let it fizzle out rather than stoke it.

This simple truth is why the past couple of days has meant so much to me. My longtime childhood friend of over 30 years is in town visiting me. It has been such a fun week having her here in Nashville with my family.

If you were to meet us you may wonder how we are friends. We had completely different interests in high school, except for the Huskers, of course. {smile} We look very different, we respond to life differently, and we haven't lived in the same state since 2000. But one thing that has bonded us for life is our love for Jesus and each other.

We have walked through the best and worst of times with each other. And we have failed each other at times. We have some great memories and memories we've tried to forget.

Just last night as we were discussing our friendship, and I told her that our friendship prepared me for marriage. I learned to love someone no matter what. I learned to cherish our differences rather than let them divide us. I learned to respect someone even when we disagreed. I learned to love through the thick and thin.

I think we often treat our spouse like we do our friends. In the world today we tend to run when the love begins to fade. Because we've never practiced loving someone at all times in our friendships, we have a difficult time practicing this discipline in marriage.

Whether you are single or married, you can practice the discipline of loving at all times. It's not always easy, but it is Biblical. And the rewards you will reap, are truly worth the effort you put in.

I challenge you today to begin making a conscious effort to love your friends, family, and spouse {present or future} AT ALL TIMES.

Let's celebrate our friendships today! I'd love to hear stories about your longtime friends. Click on “leave a comment” to share your story.

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