I read in the newspaper recently that Dorothy Young had died at the age of 103. Her claim to fame? She was the last living person to know and assist the famous magician Harry Houdini.
In 1925, when Dorothy was 17 years old, she auditioned to be one of Houdini’s assistants. Her father, a Methodist minister, had some concerns about her traveling with a sideshow and the type of people she might encounter there.
Harry and his wife, Bess, met with young Dorothy’s parents and convinced them they would watch over her as if she were their own daughter. Mom and Dad gave Dorothy their blessing and off she went to travel and work with the Houdinis.
In the latter part of her life, after Dorothy had become the only survivor of Houdini’s troupe, reporters hounded her. As they begged her to reveal the secrets of the famed magician, they revisited his various tricks and asked if she knew the secret to this one or that one. She had the same answer for each one of their questions: “Of course—but I’m sworn to secrecy.”
An amazing example of integrity and trustworthiness, Dorothy took Houdini’s secrets with her to the grave. Until the day she died, she held onto promises made 86 years before. What a friend Harry Houdini had in Dorothy Young!
Today’s young people seem hooked on a phrase written as “BFF” or “Best Friend Forever.” When they text and e-mail each other, they often use this phrase to sign off. But I’m afraid most of this generation doesn’t have a clue what a friend is, much less a best friend or a best friend forever. The Bible, however, has plenty to say about true friendship. Here are a few examples:
1. Friends love in good times and bad (Proverbs 17:17). When the storms of life prevail, many so-called friends are nowhere to be found. True friendship lasts.
2. Friends are loyal (2 Samuel 3:8). They remain unwavering, steadfast and devoted, even at their own expense. In a crisis, the last one standing is a true friend.
3. Friends pray for one another (Job 42:10). Close friends know what and how to pray for you. A true friend takes delight in escorting your earthly needs to the heavenly Father.
4. Friends forgive (Luke 5:20). No genuine friendship exists without the element of forgiveness. When lives are entangled, times will come when one offends the other. A true friend is willing to set aside personal grievances for the sake of the relationship.
5. Friends give their lives (John 15:13) and willingly put your needs above their own. Real friends put the other person first. A true friend makes sacrifice on your behalf.
6. Friends provide wise counsel (Proverbs 27:9). You can count on a friend to tell you not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. A true friend speaks the truth in love.
7. Friends love the way Jesus does (John 13:34). Christ’s love is steadfast, enduring and unchanging. And that’s why a true friend is so hard to find.
8. Friends know you intimately (John 15:15). To build a friendship, you must let the walls down as you walk out your lives together. A true friend takes the time to let the relationship go deep.
9. Friends make one another stronger and better (Proverbs 27:17). The process of friendship will polish off rough edges. A true friend loves you enough to maintain the relationship as you both change and grow.
10. Friends keep their promises (Psalm 15:4). If a friend tells you he’ll do something, you can consider it done. A true friend’s word is as good as his bond.
When I was growing up, I had several years of piano lessons. Since my mom wanted me to grow up to be the church pianist, most of the songs I learned came straight from the hymnal. One of the first was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Even today I can sit down at a piano, place my fingers on the keyboard and play that hymn from memory. And what was only a song back then has now become a reality.
Like you, I’ve had all sorts of friendships through the years. Too often, I was disappointed to learn the person I thought was a true friend . . . wasn’t. One left at the first hint of a storm. Another failed to keep a promise. Still others drifted away with the choices and changes of life. But Jesus has always remained faithful and true. And today when I sit down at the piano to play “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” I can truly say He is my BFF.
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827)