Went to breakfast this morning with a friend. A lifelong friend. Made me think about such friendships.
I don’t know how unique it is to pastor the home church where you grew up. I do know of two other men in the same situation but believe it is rare. Sometimes it can be funny and sometimes it can be embarrassing. There are times one wonders how wise it is but in my case it has worked for 25 years (which sounds better than a quarter of a century!).
But I grant it’s not for everyone. A lot of people can’t wait to put the home town in their rearview mirror with no desire to look back. I get it. If the home situation was not healthy or it was a rough neighborhood, it’s wise to start over somewhere else. And even in my case I needed to move away in order to attend bible college and seminary.
But it’s also good to hang around. Consider Jesus. The normal mode of transportation in his day was by foot. I’m sure the distances he walked were impressive compared to how far I walk but the farthest he traveled on any one day was next to nothing compared to my jumping in the car and heading down the road.
For someone with a global influence C. S. Lewis travelled very little. His time in WW I (front lines in France) and a less than two week vacation to Greece with his wife Joy three months prior to her death was about as much globetrotting as he ever did. He seem to enjoy being home among friends.
In a letter to one of his closest friends, Arthur Greeves, a few days after Christmas (1935), Lewis offers this counsel:
“After all—tho’ our novels now ignore it—friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life. If I had to give a piece of advice to a young man about a place to live, I think I should say, ‘sacrifice almost everything to live where you can be near your friends.’ I know I am v. fortunate in that respect, and you much less so. But even for me, it wd. make a great difference if you (and one or two others) lived in Oxford.”1
“Live where you can be near your friends.” Sounds nice. Is nice.
“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:15
1. Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Books, Broadcasts, and the War 1931-1949, Vol. II (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004), 174.