Friends

Roy FishChristian writer George Eliot wrote, “Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words but to pour them all out, just as it is, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keeping what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” Yesterday was one of those comforting days for me. I reconnected with a friend I hadn’t seen in at least 45 years. Bruce Doty and I were both “preacher boys” in Tulsa Youth for Christ in the mid-1960s. We went to different high schools, attended different churches. But we shared an ardent love for Jesus and a commitment to see people to come to know Him. We both preached and Bruce also led the singing in a few “revival meetings” around the area. Then we went to different Christian colleges and I didn’t see Bruce again. Until yesterday.

We went our separate ways as teenagers and reconnected as two men about to navigate the uncharted waters of the Straits of Being Old. The Connector of then and now is the Ancient of Days who “neither faints nor is weary” (Isaiah 40:28). As we sat at lunch we recounted our journeys and the Lord’s unfailing faithfulness to us. We asked about mutual friends. Then we exchanged gifts. Bruce gave me a Chuck Swindoll CD, Billy Ray’s BBQ Sauce (a Tulsa tradition), and Blue Mountain coffee from Jamaica. (He and his wife recently enjoyed a Caribbean cruise.) I gave Bruce three of my books. I think I got the better deal.

After lunch we took Bruce’s truck twelve miles out of town to their beautiful slice of paradise, tucked away deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas. I was privileged to meet Pat, his wife of over 40 years as well as one of their grandchildren. Just a great day.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). Thank you, Bruce. I drove home a sharper man, a wealthier man. And not just because of the sauce and coffee!