Every now and then someone passes through our little city that I have a history with and I get to spend a lovely hour or two over a meal, catching up with old friends. Today brought just such hours for me. If my Christian life was laid out like the books of the Bible, these two people would have first figured in the first pages of Genesis. I've written of them before, I know. The first day I met the Texan, he was speaking at the first Young Life club I ever went to, with a voice that drawled (and still does) and a little bit of sweat on his forehead, and a whole lot of passion in his words. I met her when she threw open the doors of their home once, twice, a thousand times, to me and a hundred of my peers. She welcomed us in with a smile and a warmth that never wavered. And I'm telling you, we crawled all over that house for just about every occasion one can imagine--for Bible Studies, club, for leaders' meetings and after-game get-togethers, and sometimes for no particular reason at all. I remember especially sitting on their stairs after basketball games, because it was the best spot to greet and talk to everyone who tumbled in through the front door. The Texan may have been the head of Young Life, but his wife was surely the heart behind the head.
So I have a long, long history with these two beloved people. About 39 years of history, if I've counted on my fingers correctly. I know their sons--to be completely candid, their oldest son was the first boy I ever had a real crush on. Unrequited, of course. But I don't regret it. He was a godly boy, and was kind enough to me when he didn't have to have been. Their second son was in my class and was good looking, athletic, and a real tease. There was always a connection between he and the Beve for many reasons, not the least of which was their skill on the basketball court. And they did a pretty fierce juggling routine every year for the school talent show. He was a good guy, that second son. Still is, for all I know, though I hardly ever see him. Or the older brother either, for that matter. And the youngest son--he was a whole lot younger, but he's always been a great person. And maybe, just maybe, is the pick of the litter, but that may just be my bias toward youngest sons.
Anyway, we had a great lunch. We caught up with each other, told news about our families. Broke bread and shared Jesus. I was thinking as I left them that I sometimes feel like Mary, treasuring things up in my heart. Conversations, for instance. I treasure them. But even just watching them I treasured. To see a couple who have been married for almost sixty years so solicitous of each other, it's very sweet. She went to ask for a booth rather than a table, and he looked at me and said, "Where'd she go now?" Then we talked about how she's having to do the driving now, and I asked if that was hard for him. And he answered, "Well, I'm learning to be patient." And we observed that marriage is always the place where we most learn what God needs to teach us about ourselves. Yes, Her speed is quicker than his these days, but she waits for him, watches to make sure he's with her. He took her hand to pray for the meal, and his voice was as deep and widely melodic as it ever was when he prayed at the end of club. It still has the twang of Texas in it. It all touched me that this is so. That they walk together still. And gladly so.
Yes, like Mary, friends like these I treasure: who they are to me, and who they are to each other, and just who they are. And I treasure as well the 'whenever two or more are gathered, I will be there,' time we had with Christ at our table at lunch today. Because He was there, and I felt privileged to join Him with them.