Have you noticed that as we get older we sense our next birthday rolls around at an increased speed? We all deal with that experience in our own ways. Instead of a truckload of candles on the celebration cake, we settle for one big candle to cover all the years. We rationalize that a single candle moderates the impression that so much time has passed by. Time has a way of slipping away despite what we say or do. I know that experience all too well.
About twenty years ago a good friend and I began to take different paths in life. He was Roman Catholic and a priest. I was an evangelical Christian and a Protestant, married with children. He had a profound impact on my life, but our influences on each other were not strong enough to bind us together as friends while travelling on those different life paths.
A week ago I was jolted by a troubling thought. I began thinking about my long lost friend. What ever happened to him? Was he even still alive?
I could not stop thinking about him. I was disheartened to think we had not shared a single word with each other for the last twenty years. For days I had recurring thoughts about my friend. I have always believed if the Lord places a thought within about some person, there is a reason for that. I felt I had no choice. I decided to find out what happened to my friend.
You would think in this age of Facebook and Twitter I would be able to track him down. From the outset, that was doubtful. When he would send me a letter in the past, it would have been typed on an old Royal typewriter. I suspect that did not change at this point. Social media would not be his thing. I searched the Internet for his name, a fairly common Irish name. I found vast amounts of people with that name, and it turned out to be an impossible option.
I recalled a possible clue. He often visited a charismatic Catholic community in New Jersey. I tracked that info down and gave them a call. They knew where my friend was. He had recently moved to a nursing home in northern New Jersey. When I called the nursing home they told me he had just moved out. Back to square one.
I called the charismatic group back, and they updated the location. He had just moved that day to another facility run by the Sisters of the Poor. I called that facility and I made contact with my friend after twenty years!
It was a sad and emotional conversation. He was not exactly sure what was going on. He could not believe I had found him after all this time. I prayed for him, asking the Lord to give him peace and comfort. Our conversation came at just the right time. That had to be the point when his name was placed on my heart days earlier.
Later, when I shared this story with our son who lives near the Sisters of the Poor nursing facility, he volunteered to visit my friend. It reminded me of a river fed by the Lord. There was now another person adding their concern and prayers to the flow of God’s grace. Only the Lord knows what’s next!