Several years ago, I found myself stranded on the Third Mainland Bridge, a major traffic route in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. If you know Lagos, you will agree with me that it is the worst place your car could break down. Even in broad daylight, it’s a challenge. But here I was at 11.OOpm on this lonely and dangerous stretch of the bridge with a flat tyre. As if that was not bad enough, I reached for my car jack but it was nowhere to be found. I murmured some prayers under my breath, as the realisation dawned on me that only a miracle would get me out of this.
I had been standing on this spot for about thirty minutes without any help when a car zoomed past. It stopped about a hundred meters away, and its reverse lights came on. My heart skipped a dozen beats! Were the occupants coming to lend a helping hand or was it going to be the climax of a nightmare? It took me just a few seconds to find out. My good college friend, whom I had not seen for decades, stepped out of the car in his full military regalia. After such a long separation, and even in the dark, he was able to recognize me. At great risk to his life, he stopped to help a friend.
Who is a friend? What is friendship? Solomon the wise king, talking about the same issue, said in Proverbs 17:17 ”A friend loves at all times.”
An English publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of definitions it received, a friend was said to be:
- One who multiplies joy and divides grief.
- One who understands our silence.
- A volume of sympathy bound in cloth.
- A watch that beats true for all time and never runs down.
But the definition that won the prize simply said: “A friend – the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.” One young man described a friend as someone who knows everything about you and still likes you.
We all need friends! They often provide the shock absorbers to cushion the effects of the many bumps of life. If we do not make conscious efforts to make new friends as we pass through life, we will soon find ourselves left alone. We often say and know to be true that one enemy is too many but a hundred friends are too few.
To be concluded tomorrow…