Saturday, December 31, 2011

open thanks to close friends

funny how one simple thing will trigger a torrent of thoughts.  i am in my living room this morning working thru one of the prayer exercises from the devotional prayer book mike recommended to me back in august when i was in guatemala.  in spite of it being fairly new, the binding is broken.  this is in stark contrast to my bible laying there next to it.  of course my bible is much older, but it has been rebound.  it was THIS that unleashed the flood. 
my bible is rebound because of you all.  a little over a year ago, when james was still among us, you presented me with a monetary gift for christmas, part of which went towards that rebinding.  but i distinctly remember telling you all when you gave me the check that YOU were the real gift.  the monetary contribution was worth far less than the company of men that sacrificed towards that end.  and as i sit here, i cannot help but think about, and thank God for, the incalculable contribution you have made to my life over this past year. 
you have been a crucible for working out my sanctification in fear and trembling and deep pain.  because of you, i have a realization and understanding, like never before, of the value of brotherhood – we have been for each other conduits for the receiving and giving of tangible grace: emergency prayers, texts, phone calls, contacts – fleeting and prolonged –  both face-to-face and skype-to-skype – to help each other in the midst of both short-lived and protracted crises…sometimes we have stood firm…sometimes we have not.  we have shared laughs, and tears – of joy, sorrow, cleansing and burden.  and we have shared prayers for life, in both holy and mundane matters.
our interactions have built me up, challenged me and torn at my soul.  i am a different man because of you.  and it seems fitting, this last day of this year, as i thank God for you, to let you in on the details of my thanks. 
funny…when i refer to us publically as a group i usually use some term like “the thursday morning breakfast guys” – a handle that’s far too long for convenience.  but in my address book groups, you are simply “SOS”…universally known as a cry of distress, but which for me has also come to stand for “Sanctify Our Souls”. 
so with profound gratitude for your life, your friendship, your brotherhood, your love, your prayers, your intercessions, your affections, your tears, your rebukes, your pokings and proddings, your leading me to the cross, your helping me stand when i cannot do so on my own, for invading my life and permanently affecting the course of each and every day, in the name of Christ our savior and master, i give thanks.