"Ripe age gives tone to violins, wine, and good friends."
~James Townsend Trowbridge
I would add "good Godly friends".
I attended the wedding of a daughter of dear friends last night. My Tim and I drove two hours in the rain to get there, arriving just in time. The church sanctuary was beautiful, but more than that, there was this sweet, sweet atmosphere in the air, the sort that doesn't come from decor, regardless of how elegant the look. That sweetness came from the people who filled the room - they all came out of love, and each person brought a unique and joyful energy. We couldn't wait to see this young couple say their "I Do's".
Tim and I were there when this young couple's parents got married. Back then, we all were young twenty-somethings together, and I remember Tim sang for them, during their ceremony. Fast forward, many many days....there we were last night...about two decades later, attending their daughter's wedding.
God means for relationships to be that good. Generational love.
As I sat, looking at faces we have known, loved, and worked with to some degree or another in Master Builders, some for twenty years, I was deeply content to simply be there. As I breathed in the fragrance of friendship, I thought to myself: This is the sort of continuity that can only come with the passing of years upon years. I would not trade this continuity of relationship for anything. I would not leave these co-laborers in the Kingdom for anything short of someone denying Jesus Christ.
Oh, dear ones! Good, gospel-loving friends are not a dime a dozen. To have a good, old friend is a piece of crazy-fortunate fortune, a priceless gift, a treasure beyond all reason. Look around you....who is "still there"? Who manifests the faithful love of Christ to you? Tell them how much you value them - do it today, please, because I assure you this, with all my heart: most men will each proclaim his own goodness, but a faithful man (or woman), who can find? (Proverbs 20:6)
Vows were spoken, as our dear friends (father and mother of the bride) looked on, misty eyed. The father both gave his daughter away, and then officiated her wedding. Tim and I remarked at his poise and sense of humor, and the great job he did for his daughter - he certainly did her proud. As the wedding party and bride and groom skipped back down the center aisle to the fun song "I Feel Good", everyone was smiling. I think there were as many people there for the sake of the parents, as were there for the bride and groom - I know how this feels, and it is absolutely a humbling sense of affection and relationship.
Tim and I ran back out into the rain, jumped in our vehicle, and started for home. Though invited to stay for the dinner reception, we had to get back to town for several important reasons. We left a lot of irons in the fire just to make the trip - two hours there and two hours back...all for 45 minutes of ceremony, if not less.
So worth it. We'd have traveled longer, were it necessary.
The words of a poem come to mind ~
"From quiet homes and first beginning,
Out to the undiscovered ends,
There's nothing worth the wear of winning,
And the love of friends."
I have only a few things that are "my own". My house is not even yet "my own". My wedding ring is my own. My husband is my own. Of the very few things that are my own, even fewer - two, in fact - are eternal: family and Godly friends.
Treasure both. If you are insanely blessed, you will find yourself laboring in the Kingdom alongside both family and friends. Make almost any concession to preserve that kind of continuity. God loves it, He smiles on it. There is no other way to establish a generational Kingdom work, but to stick and stay and care about the continuity. No. Other. Way.
It is never God's will that you "build houses, but not inhabit them, plant vineyards, but not eat the fruit of them." (Isaiah 65:21, contrasted with Zephaniah 1:13)
If you find yourself building relationships but not "inhabiting" them for very long, planting family bonds, sowing into friendships, but not harvesting the fruit of them (many many years later)...I will say this as gently as I can, but someone needs to tell you: you are under some sort of judgement. That is not God's version of normalcy. You need to find out why and fix it.
Don't leave those relationships. Nothing else is worth the wear of winning.
Proverbs 27:10 ~ "Do not forsake your own friend..."