Our Eternal Friendship

Since the 1950's, a cartoon known as "Peanuts" has brought laughter and joyful wisdom to millions of readers in newspapers across the world. In the beginning,.Charlie Brown was the only character. Soon the cartoonist, Charles Schulz began to add other little people to the cartoon. I always chuckled at the conversations that Charlie Brown and Lucy had. One such cartoon pictures them sitting together in a chair watching television as the announcer says, "All is right with the world."

Charlie turns to Lucy to ask what that means. Her smug reply is, "All is right with the world when Lucy's here!"

Funny as that seems, I have had friends who meant so much to me that when they moved away, I was lonely and it didn’t seem that "all was right with the world.".

My prayer partner, Sherry, was one of those. As a sister in Christ, she was a blessing to my spiritual growth. We often laughed or cried together and we prayed through many a problem. When a bad situation arose and she had moved away, I was sad..

In the Bible, we see that the Apostle Paul left many friends behind as he moved about in his travels. One such letter reminded me of what Sherry might have written to me as an encouragement to rejoice and grow in my Christian faith. So I wrote a brief letter to myself from Sherry using verses from the second chapter of Philippians:

"Dear Lucy, All my prayers for you are full of praise to God..When I pray for you my heart is full of joy. Whatever happens to me, always live as a Christian must so that whether I see you again or not, I will keep on hearing good reports that you are faithful to tell the Good News - fearlessly - no matter who opposes you.

"When I was there with you, you were always so careful to walk as a Christian. Now that I am away, you must be even more careful to do the good things of God - shrinking back from what might displease Him. For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey Him and then helping you do what He wants.

"In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing so that no one can speak a word against your conduct. Live a clean, innocent life as a child of God in a dark world full of people who are crooked and stubborn. Shine out among them like a beacon of light , giving them the Word of Life. When Christ returns, how glad I’ll be that my work while with you was so worthwhile.

"Peace and grace, Sherry "

We give thanks for those friends who care and encourage us, as Paul did many times in his letters. One of the reasons I treasure that part of the New Testament is to see the relationships between believers. Everyone longs for friendship, but eventually all earthly friendships come to an end.

However, there is an eternal Friend who never leaves us. He came to earth as a tiny Baby over two thousand years ago. The angel who announced His birth to Mary said, "You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus."(Luke 1:31).

Throughout the gospel story we learn that this Baby was God incarnate; when we ask Jesus to live in our heart, the love relationship begins and never ends. In fact , it only gets deeper, and more intimate as the Spirit of God loves, sustains and empowers His children. The fulfillment of that friendship is in our heavenly home.

Through the great music of the church, many composers have experienced that relationship. Joseph Scriven was such a man, who revealed that friendship with Jesus as he overcame many trials and heartaches. Born and reared in Ireland in 1819, he longed for the time when he could apply for service in the military. But his dreams were shattered when he was declared unfit due to physical problems.

He eventually became a teacher at Trinity College in Dublin.It was not long before Scriven and his childhood sweetheart were engaged. His dreams of a joyful marriage ended when she was thrown from her horse and drowned in a rushing river.

At the age of twenty- five he left his home and traveled to New Hope, Ontario ,Canada where he was employed as a family tutor. Within ten years he was again engaged to be married but more grief entered his life. His fiancee died of pneumonia before their wedding.

For the rest of his life he remained in his new homeland and was a beloved neighbor to all.

He helped many people with their chores and worked where needed often without pay. The healing in his own life resulted in a comforting and caring support for others.

A friend was visiting one day in his home and spotted a tattered paper on a table. The words that were written brought tears to his eyes. The first line, "What a Friend we have in Jesus," was followed by more words that expressed God’s great love and compassion. The man asked Joseph Scriven where it came from. The reply was that he wrote it for his mother who was very ill in Ireland. And then the humble author said, "The Lord and I did it between us."

"What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear,

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.

Oh what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear.

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."

Each thought in this hymn is evidence to the faith of a quiet Christian man who lived his life as one great sermon. He overcame many disappointments, but with new beginnings and eternal friendship with his Lord Jesus.

These simple and powerful words inspired composer Charles Converse in 1868 to write the soothing tune that carries it to the hearts of millions. When I sing it, my heart says: all is right with the world because Jesus is my best Friend.

Thank you, oh God, for Your intimate power of love. My life overflows with thanksgiving.

In Jesus’ precious name. Amen

Lucy Neeley Adams has always loved music. She began telling the story of hymns on Christian radio WWGM in Nashville, TN, in the '80s. She then wrote a newspaper column titled "Song Stories" for five years. During that time Lucy's book, 52 Hymn Story Devotions, was published by Abingdon Press in Nashville. Each of the 52 stories contained in the book is written in a devotional format, with the words of the hymn concluding each devotion. Lucy, dubbed "The hymn lady," can be heard on the first Thursday of each month when she discusses hymn stories during a telephone interview with Michelle Mendoza of "Living Christian." The program is aired on station KCIS in Seattle, WA. Lucy lives at Lake Junaluska, NC, with her minister husband, Woody. They have four children and fourteen grandchildren. She may be reached for comment at lucya424@aol.com. Visit her at 52hymns.com