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Blog Post: December 7, 2020

Read this featured blog post by Pastor Tony Rea

Friends

Without a doubt, my all-time favorite Christmas movie has to be It’s a Wonderful Life. I enjoy Christmas Story, still laugh at Elf ,and know the majority of the lines from Christmas Vacation. As a kid I watched Miracle on 34th Street every year; and without fail, I continue to cry like a baby at the end of Scrooged. 

 

However, from my perspective, none of these incredible story lines can possibly compete with George Bailey’s. Here’s an admirable, one-of-a-kind guy who finds himself in such a desperate situation that he actually is thinking about ending it all, at Christmas! As George is about to jump from a bridge, God intervened and dispatched an angel, Clarence, who shows George how different the world would have been if he had never been born. We are able to see what a lifetime of good deeds and selfless living looks like and how the influence of just one person can positively affect an entire community. 

 

At the end of the movie, Clarence wrote Mr. Bailey a message: 

 

Dear George,

 

Remember, no man (or woman) is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings! 

 

Love, 

Clarence 

 

Friendship is a divine gift. Friends are trusted people who know and love us. They stand by our side no matter what. They offer support, laugh when we laugh, cry when we cry. Genuine friends just always seem to be there at the perfect time. They help get us through the rough and messy patches, and they are first to celebrate our wins and accomplishments. 

 

In the Book of Proverbs, King Solomon teaches us the value of friendships. 

 

Proverbs 17:17 (ESV)

A friend loves at all times, 

and a brother is born for adversity.

 

Proverbs 18:24 (ESV)

A man of many companions may come to ruin,

but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. 

 

When I was 15 years old, I landed my first real job at a nursery and garden center not far from my house. After working there a few days, my boss asked me if I knew of any other guys my age who wanted a job. At school the next day, I told my friend Pete about it, and he said he was interested. Pete applied at the nursery, and they hired him too. 

 

For the most part, Pete and I had the exact same work schedule, a few hours after school during the week, and then we worked the weekends. We were assigned to the warehouse section of the store as stock boys and would pretty much do whatever the boss or any other store employee told us to do: unload merchandise, stack fertilizer, water plants, pot shrubs and hedges, and set up outdoor fountain displays, etc. 

 

After we had worked at the nursery for a few months, we both received a promotion. We were called up to inside the store where we actually interacted with the customers. We answered questions the customers might have, and we helped carry their purchases out to the car. 

 

Then came the time when we were allowed to work the cash register, actually taking money from the customers paying for their purchases. After doing that for a while, I came up with a brilliant idea. I secretly masterminded a plan to make a few extra dollars—after all, we were only getting paid $1.25 an hour. On one particular occasion that I worked the cash register, the entire day I purposely short-changed the customers ten to fifteen cents. Please don’t severely judge me for this, I was young and foolish at the time and was not a believer yet. 

 

Working my system all day long—a dime here, a nickel there (and never getting caught)—I was able to accumulate an extra $5 in the register drawer. When I hit the $5 mark (I maintained the count in my head), I proceeded to the register, removed a $5 bill, and put it in my pocket. No one was around—no one except for Pete. Keep in mind, I did not tell him about my devious get-rich-quick plan. When Pete saw what I did, he came running over to me. He said, “Put it back! Put the money back right now!” I tried to explain my fool-proof plan, but he wasn’t having any of it. In a rather demonstrative manner, he said, “If you don’t put the money back right now, I will never be your friend again!” Pete was serious. 

 

I thought about it for a split-second (LOL). Remember this was 50 years ago, and $5 back then was a huge amount of money. All kidding aside, it didn’t take long for me to make my decision. I put the $5 bill back in the drawer, and I sure am glad I did. Pete and I stayed friends and have maintained the closeness of our friendship for 51 years. 

 

Pete has always been there for me; and to this day, I can call him at any hour of the day or night, knowing he would do whatever he could to help. I know that because Pete has proven the faithfulness of his friendship over the years. And if that kind of loyal friendship wasn’t rewarding enough, back in 2003, as a member of CCC, God would orchestrate Pete’s contracting company to build the second phase of our church building. What a tremendous blessing it is today, as friends—life-long friends—to worship the Lord together at CCC—a place where we both have been graced by God to serve! 

 

Proverbs 18:24 (one more time)

A man of many companions may come to ruin,

but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.