Songs are such a blessing. One of my favorites is “Faithful Friend” by Steven Curtis Chapman and Twila Parish. This recurring phrase blinds me with tears of joy as I recall the faithful friends who now await my arrival in heaven, perhaps wondering if I went somewhere else since I haven’t joined them yet:

I will be an open door you can count on

Anywhere you are, anywhere you’ve been

I will be an honest heart you can depend on

I will be a faithful friend

In the meantime, until I walk through the Pearly Gates, I shall continue to praise God daily for the faithful friends He has put in my life. Many, whom I can depend on, still walk the sod serving God. Their friendship is the sacred treasure of my life. They are the men and women who stay in touch, calling or writing to express their love and cheer me on. Their encouragement is the soul food that keeps my spirit strong. My heart skips a beat when I recognize the voice of a faithful friend on the line. If He had done nothing else for me, I could gladly say “God is good” because of the friends He has given me.

In his letters, Saint Paul echoes this same love for his friends. In Corinth, he was blessed with the friendship of Aquila and Priscilla, fellow tentmakers who became Paul’s beloved helpers in the work of Christ. They opened their hearts and home to Paul. There Paul found refuge, rest, encouragement and companionship.

Aquila and Priscilla accompanied Paul to other towns in his missionary work, and he left them in charge of the ministry in Ephesus. There they opened their home as a worship center for believers — an example for us in our day. Many nonbelievers will accept an invitation to fellowship in a home quicker than an invitation to a church building. In a family room we can tell people about the family of God — and offer them the precious gift of faithful friendship. It was such a friendship Aquila and Priscilla had with Paul, who paid them this tender tribute: “My fellow workers in Christ Jesus . . . (who) risked their lives for the gospel” (Romans 16:3).

As great a man as Paul was, he recognized his need for the help of friends. When we read about his ministry in the Bible, repeatedly the name of a faithful friend is included: “Paul and Barnabas,” or “Paul and Silas.” As I look back over my days of ministry, my eyes quickly fill with tears as I remember the devoted “fellow workers in Christ Jesus” that God in His mercy gave me. Today, I salute with gratitude those dear saints, both the “quick” and the dead, who stood by my side as faithful friends in the work of Christ Jesus. To borrow words Paul used in expressing his love for the saints in Philippi, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” And to each dear friend who reads this, I say in the words of the song:

You’ve always taken time to be my brother

And I’ll be standing by you in the end

I will be an honest heart you can depend on

I will be a faithful friend.