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Pastor Phil Bell is a stroke survivor and one of our stroke camp friends from Macomb, Illinois. Occasionally, he writes articles for their local newspaper. This is one of them, and he has permitted us to post it on our blog.
Street & Steeple for December 7, 2018
“True Wealth Is Found in One’s Friends”
By Phil Bell, retired pastor University Baptist Church
Annually, Forbes Magazine publishes lists of the world’s most wealthy people. They measure wealth, as do most of us, by money and possessions. There are, however, other ways to measure riches, among them, knowledge and education. I would propose that true wealth is measured by one’s friends! On my refrigerator is a magnet reading, “Friends are God’s way of taking care of us.” I couldn’t agree more!
Following my massive stroke, when my wife, Nancy, brought me home from Heartland Healthcare, a few of my church friends who are also brothers and sisters in Christ, came to our house to assist her in transferring me from my wheelchair to our stairs lift chair, back into the wheelchair, and then into bed. In fact, one of them came every Sunday morning to help her so I could attend church and continued to do so until she felt confident to do it herself! Nearly all of the church folk brought us dinner every day until we had to, literally, tell them to stop. Without these friends my transition home would have been significantly more difficult, if not impossible!
Throughout my life I have been blessed to have eight best friends, including my wife, both when we were dating and after our marriage. I honestly believe her attending me so well as my sole caregiver is due as much as or more to her being my best friend as to her being my wife. My two best friends now after my wife are both pastors: my own, Rich Barnett of University Baptist and Mike Burdick of Immanuel Lutheran.
The first Aprils Fools Day following my stroke I called Mike to say, “Mike, now that I have half a brain I’m ready to convert to be a Lutheran. Not even waiting for me to say April Fool, he said, “Phil, we don’t want you!” That is, I believe, how friends speak to one another, honestly with fun out of mutual respect and trust! Nancy and I are fortunate to have good neighbors and friends on either side of us.
Also, across the street, live a family of Cardinals fans and friends, if you can believe that! Nancy, when she brought me home, arranged with them that she could call upon them to help, if needed. They, graciously told her especially to call in cases of emergency. Sure enough, soon, I ended up on the floor. She called them. When they came, Nancy looked down at me to say, “You’re never going to live this down.” As most of you know, I am one of Macomb’s most die-hard and obnoxious Cubs fan! I looked up to see three Cardinals shirted persons here to rescue me! They did, and since, many times Tom has been invaluable help to Nancy in many ways!
In 2016 when the Cubs won it all. Tom came to me saying, “Phil, you know your Cubs flag hanging in front of your house is getting a little the worse for wear. I will buy you a new one should the Cubs win the World Series.” Of course, they did and he did! He came up with it so quickly I wondered if he really had to buy it or already had it, being a closet Cubs fan! Either way, that is the height of friendship, a Cardinals fan giving a Cubs flag to a Cubs fan. He is paying the price for his magnanimous gesture, having to look at it every day!
The Bible has plenty to say about friends. In Proverbs we are told that there is a friend who is closer than a brother, that a friend’s counsel is sweet, and we are not to forsake our own friend or the friend of our father. I trust I’ve convinced you that true wealth is measured by our friends!
Your job is to appreciate your friends by telling them so and increase others’ riches by being a friend yourself!