There is a story from Today in the Word I’ve loved for years about Automaker Henry Ford who asked electrical genius Charlie Steinmetz to build the generators for his factory. One day the generators ground to a halt, and the repairmen couldn’t find the problem. Ford called Steinmetz, who tinkered with the machines for a few hours and then threw the switch. The generators whirred to life. Ford got a bill for $10,000 from Steinmetz. Flabbergasted, the rather tightfisted carmaker inquired why the bill was so high. Steinmetz’s reply: For tinkering with the generators, $10. For knowing where to tinker, $9,990. Ford paid the bill! It often amazes me as I recall the expert advice or the pearls of wisdom that have been graciously handed to me from a friend. It happens sometimes as I see a memory on Facebook or when I come across their contact information on my I Phone. May what we impart to others who follow be Godly and wise.

Speaking of the contacts in my I Phone, I’m not sure why certain ones are still in there. And for some reason, I just can’t muster up the courage to delete them from my contacts. It seems like once a week I come across one or two while perusing the contacts on my smart phone. I’m talking about phone numbers of many old friends who have already graduated to Heaven. I know that I will never use them again, though once a dear departed ministry colleague’s number appeared as an incoming call! Wow! Verizon’s service is better than I thought! What does occur is the quick reference in my mind to a cherished friendship and sometimes even a lesson or two learned and still remembered.

God has blessed our lives with the priceless gift of friendships. Chuck Swindoll writes, “During his days as president, Thomas Jefferson and a group of companions were traveling across the country on horseback. They came to a river that had left its banks because of a recent downpour. The swollen river had washed the bridge away. Each rider was forced to ford the river on horseback, fighting for his life against the rapid currents. The very real possibility of death threatened each rider, which caused a traveler who was not part of his or her group to step aside and watch. After several had plunged in and made it to the other side, the stranger asked President Jefferson if he would ferry him across the river. The president agreed without hesitation. The man climbed on, and shortly thereafter the two of them made it safely to the other side. As the stranger slid off the back of the saddle onto dry ground, one in the group asked him, “Tell me, why did you select the president to ask this favor of?” The man was shocked, admitting he had no idea it was the president who had helped him. “All I know,” he said, “Is that on some of your faces was written the answer ‘No,’ and on some of them was the answer ‘yes.’ His was a ‘Yes’ face.” Perhaps that’s why the writer in the book of Proverbs tells us, “A friend loveth at all times.”

Those forgotten numbers on my phone sometimes brings to mind lessons I’ve learned, and sound advice gleaned from an old friend. I remember years ago standing with a crowd of young couples preparing to walk nervously into an Ordination service. One of the seasoned church leaders waxed eloquent, sharing a bit of wisdom which he had gleaned from years in ministry. Whether he was aware or not that bit of advice has anchored itself to our minds. His wise counsel was… “Watch what you bleed for.” Boy that has stuck, and I can’t tell you the number of times when faced with tough days and big decisions that little bit of wisdom kept me focused and gave clarity of thought to a Pastor and his wife.

All this talk of memories past reminds me of a priest named Maximilian. It was February 1941, Auschwitz, Poland. Maximilian Kolbe was a Franciscan priest put in the infamous death camp. Months went by and in desperation an escape took place. The camp rule was enforced. Ten people would be rounded up randomly and herded into a cell where they would die of starvation and exposure. Names were called. A Polish Jew Frandishek Gasovnachek was called. He cried, “Wait, I have a wife and children!” Kolbe stepped forward and said, “I will take his place.” Kolbe was marched into the cell with nine others where he managed to live until August 14. There remains at Auschwitz a memorial inscribed with these words “IN MEMORY OF MAXIMILIAN KOLBE HE DIED IN MY PLACE.” Every day Gasovnachek lived since 1941, he lived with the knowledge, “I live because someone died for me.” And every year on August 14 he traveled there in memory of Kolbe. Be a Godly friend and make wonderful memories that will long outlive your life!

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