God’s Gift of a Friend

bonsai

Mike was my husband’s best friend. They had known each other for years. Mike was quite a character, but a lovable one. We didn’t always agree on things. He didn’t go to church, for one thing. But he was a good man with a good heart. And he was a good friend, always there when my husband needed him.

Mike was interested in Japanese art. He made bonsai trees and once he made us some framed prints, handwritten in Japanese, with sayings on them. My husband’s 2 prints each had a scripture verse and mine said – Colleen, God bless you

He knew our love for God and so he showed his love for us in this way.

Mike died a few years ago, not too long after giving us those gifts. His death was unexpected. He had been in the hospital but seemed to be doing well. The last time we saw him, we had brought him out to lunch. When we dropped him off at his home, he gave me a hug and then, just before he entered his house, he turned partway around, gave us that impish smile of his, and raised his hand to wave good-bye. And then he was gone.

That is how I picture Mike every time I think of him. His hand raised, smiling, saying good-bye.

Not too many days after that, we got the call from his son to tell us that Mike had died in his sleep, I remember wandering the house, crying. Praying that God would give me some sign that Mike was with him, that he was OK. I saw those prints on the wall that he had given us. I took one off the wall to read the scripture verse on it.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. (Mt 5:8)

Oh my. Right then I knew God had answered me and I cried some more, this time with joy. Then I looked at the other one, curious to see what that verse was:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him might not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

I knew Mike was with God.

A few months later, my husband and I were out shopping. “Out of the blue,” we decided that since we were already out and about, we would go out to lunch rather than dinner which had been our original plan. We had a gift certificate to a new restaurant that we had never been to before.

When we walked in, waiting to be seated, we saw a young man walk by and he said something friendly to us. Then he quickly turned back to us, and said my husband’s name. We suddenly recognized him – it was one of Mike’s sons. We had not see him since the funeral.

Coincidence? No. God-incidence is more like it. I figure Mike wanted to let us know he is still in our lives. And still loves us. In case we needed reminding.

I don’t know for sure, but maybe Mike’s son had that same kind of feeling. We talked for several minutes about Mike and then we sat down at our table, as his companions were getting ready to go. We enjoyed our meal, but when we went to pay, the waitress told us that we would have to use our gift certificate another time because Mike’s son had left money for our meal.

God has a way of letting us know we are not alone. We are not alone in our grief or our memories or the everyday moments of our lives. And sometimes, God lifts the veil and lets us catch a teeny glimpse of his immense intimate forever kind of love.

And that is the best gift of all.

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