Monday, April 23, 2012

A Friend is a Gift

Her name was Valerie. Fresh out of college, a newlywed, and teaching Spanish at a local high school. Pretty. Shiny shoulder-length brunette hair. Clear, smooth complexion and a smile that revealed a merry heart.
We attended the same church, but I don’t know why she chose me for her friend. Our first get together was on the tennis court. Never mind I was 35 and had five children at home. She apparently didn’t realize how much trouble my short legs were going to have keeping up with her long, slim ones on the court. (In retrospect, maybe she did!).
I soon discovered Valerie was an unusual friend. She spent hours in prayer. I had personal devotions, but there was a greater dimension in Valerie’s prayer life.
One day Valerie and I visited a young man paralyzed in an auto accident a few weeks before. His spirit was broken and he no longer wanted to attend church.
“May I pray for you?” Valerie asked after we’d talked a while..
The young man, shoulders drooped, nodded. When Valerie prayed, the room was charged with God’s presence. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he would have jumped out of the wheel chair and danced. Instead, he wept. But you could see despair turn to healing in his spirit. He was back in church the next Sunday.
Today I found a letter Valerie wrote to me more than 20 years ago, encouraging me and saying she had been praying for me in the night. Valerie truly was a great friend. Solomon wrote, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend …” (Proverbs 27:9).