All-American Friend
by Rik Charbonneaux

"Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends..." C.S. Lewis

Sometimes we can leave a lasting impression upon someone and not realise it, or even recall it. Although time can dim impressions, life can bring them back full circle:*

Two young men, one named Jack and the other Philip, were both raised in the church by loving parents and attended the same high school. Jack was athletic, popular and an A student. Philip was none of those things, being one who tried to stay "under the radar" most school days.

Aside from being Christians, about the only thing they had in common was a love of peace and quiet, which they both found at the same cafeteria table. They would talk and Philip would open up on any topic that Jack cared to bring forth. Philip got to where he enjoyed it when a pretty girl would sit down and join them. Jack had a way of attracting them.

High school graduation had them going in other directions. Jack would go to college on an athletic scholarship and would become a two-time All American Swimmer. Unknown to Jack, Philip would continue to deal with a terminal illness that he had developed as a child.

When Jack had graduated, it was back to the old home town and on to his first job. One day his father asked him if he was going to go to Philip's funeral, as the young man's family wanted to know. With his young lifestyle and popularity with the women, Jack did not even know that Philip was sick, let alone that he had died.

"Of course" was his answer and with the style of a Tim Tebow, he attended the visitation in the small chapel and met with the family. Philip's father had read his son's diary after Philip died and saw where Philip considered Jack to be his best friend and then the family thanked Jack for being such a good friend and great influence on their son's attitude as his disease progressed.

Jack was stunned. He had never truly been anyone's friend. Most of his acquaintances were competitors and he had defeated many in NCAA competitions, and yet here lay a young man who considered him to be his best friend, just from their time together talking at a school lunch table.

He so moved that he contacted some of his old fellow athletes from highschool and talked a few into attending the funeral and the graveside service. They ended up being the only ones of Philip's peers to come and their presence meant a great deal to the family.

As life unfolds the pleasant and the unpleasant before young men, they grow up and they change. Jack was humbled by this experience and he was a better and more caring man for it.

Much like the body of Christ, we are each built up or humbled by each other in this life, usually in a positive manner that serves the greater good. Jack and Philip are good examples of how a kindness to or an interest in another person is one thing, but the encouragement and motivation unknowingly given to one another is a wonderful thing that can go full circle.

For those of you who enjoyed this true story, there is this:

There are things in life more important that who you are, what you have and what you have done. There is the aspect of who were you to another, and of how you effected them, and of how they effected you.

* Faith Radio - Minneapolis, MN

Rik Charbonneaux is a retired NE Iowan who loves all of God's creatures.

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