I did something a couple of weeks ago that I do every year. I got in my car and drove for almost 7 hours to spend a couple of days with some old friends. I arrived shortly before dinner time on Thursday, which we ate at the Nacoochee Grill in Helen, Ga. Delicious pork chops topped with anduille gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, and topped off with the largest piece of chocolate cake I have ever seen.
On Friday, we drove across the South Carolina border to spend the perfect day rafting the class 3, 4 & 5 rapids of the Chatooga River (of Deliverance fame). Our intentions were to spend Saturday kayaking the Chattahoochee River, but the cold wet weather changed our minds.
We have been doing this for over 25 years. No one quite remembers exactly when we started, but it is a tradition that I place high on my priority list of things to do each year. I know that it will occur sometime around the end of April or beginning of May each year, so I guard those dates if at all possible. It’s that important to me.
Why is it so important for me to do this each year? Because it is important for me to stay connected with friends from my past. The guys who show up each year are mostly guys with whom I went to High School many years ago. Most of us also attended the same church and were raised together with the same good influence of each others’ parents and other volunteers who worked with the youth group of First Baptist Church in Griffin, GA.
Though we have gone in different directions through the years, we have a lot of common history. In fact, each year we usually end up telling the same stories we told the previous year. But there is also some kind of invisible bonding agent that keeps bringing us back each year. I think it has something to do with a shared faith in Christ and a genuine love for one another.
Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). This was Jesus’ way of stressing the importance of staying connected with him. I have found that a side benefit of staying connected with Christ is that we are also able to stay connected with one another. Don’t let time and distance keep you from staying connected to what is truly important.
Love you guys….And paddle faster, I hear banjo music. 🙂
Tim Hobbs, Pastor.