Ride-or-die friends can be quite rare

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, June 14, 2023

By Les Ferguson, Jr.

Last week I had lunch with an old friend. The operative word is old. He is, in fact, much older than me, but has been a friend for a very long time.

Years and years ago, down in Vicksburg, we attended, worshiped, and worked together in the same church. In many respects, the church was the beginning basis of our relationship.

Email newsletter signup

But we had other things in common as well. Both of us served in the Navy – he was on a submarine, and I was on a ship. We could always talk about our sailor experiences as well as make jokes and tease each other about the kind of vessels we served on. (You just never know about those submarine sailors!)

But more than anything, we’ve had a long, long, mutual respect and admiration for each other. No matter how much time has passed between conversations and visits, we can pick right back up where we were before.

Sometime back in the 1980s, Michael. W. Smith released a song with the words, a friend is a friend forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them. Just writing those words spins up an earworm that will last all day. But more than just the melody and harmony of a beautiful song, those lyrics resonate with me.

True ride-or-die friends can be quite rare. Back in December, Terry, Dean, and myself lost a lifelong friend from as far back as Junior High. David fought a valiant battle with cancer for years, but he has now joined our other buddy, Chuck, whom we lost way too early in our thirties. I will miss those guys until the day we are reunited again.

Friends. Real friends. True friends. You just cannot place too great of a value on a friend. I don’t have room in this column to talk about a few lifelong ministry friends – we’ve gone to school together and helped bury parents, children, and wives. Indeed, the ties that bind are powerfully knotted together.

This is not meant to be a maudlin, depressing post. Quite the opposite, instead. What I hope you will do is take a few moments to recognize, appreciate, and honor the friends in your life.

At this moment, I cannot help but think of two different couples who have become vital parts of our lives – one set is older, and one set is our age. Both friendships are immeasurably important to my wife and me, and incredibly, those two sets of friends have blended together.

My life is richly blessed by friends.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them 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.

Les Ferguson, Jr., is minister at Oxford Church of Christ. Write to him at lfergusonjr@gmail.com