Over 40 years ago, I tentatively stepped foot onto the campus of Oral Roberts University, nearly 1,500 miles from my northeast home. I didn't know a single person at the university but was confident in the assurance that the Lord had indeed called me there.
The first evening on campus, I attended a devotion held in the room of our floor chaplain. Gathered in that tiny space were young women from all over the country who were filled with fear, hope and the innocent plans of girlhood. Our hearts were open to anything and everything the Holy Spirit might want to do in us and through us.
One freshman, from Smackover, Arkansas, impressed me immediately. We were polar opposites and yet felt drawn to each other in a miraculous type of friendship. She had short, black, curly hair; my long blonde hair touched my waist. She said, "Y'all," while I nasally intoned, "You guys." Her mother had passed away from cancer when Debby was only 12 years old, and my mother was a living, vibrant and active force in my life. I would major in piano, and she would major in physical education.
The biggest difference of all, however, was in our personality types. She was outgoing and the life of every party; I was quiet and serious and didn't even know a party was happening. She kept me from being boring, and I kept her out of trouble.
At first glance, it didn't seem as though we had much in common.
However, what we shared was a passion for the Word of God and a common desire to be used by God at our moment in history. We decided to become roommates the next year and roomed together for two glorious, fun-filled years.
As the years have passed, our friendship has only deepened. There has been no distance, no living situation or no challenge in life that has divided us. When her husband was tragically killed, her grief and sorrow only deepened our three-decade-long friendship. When I battled cancer, she stood with me through every surgery, every recovery and every treatment plan.
We pray for one another's children and call each other higher and deeper in our faith.
God meant for His children who are earthbound to enjoy this extraordinary gift of friendship and sweet communion. We were never designed to go through life alone, but in relationship with those who simply care. I have learned, from my 40-year friendship with a curly-headed girl from Smackover, Arkansas, that there are few things on this earth more to be prized than true friendship. One true friend as you go through life is a rich endowment indeed.
My prayer for you today is that you will appreciate the friends you've been given. I hope you will take the time to pray for, to serve and to give to all of those comrades who have stood with you through the thick and thin of life.
God-given friends instill courage, fan the flame of kindness and give wisdom that empowers us to be who we were created to be. And I hope you have a friend or two like Debby.
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released last August. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "A Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at justjoyministries.com.
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