Friendship on the Mountain

Relationships that forge the people we become

by Scott Morris

Charlie and I started out playing football together. Neither one of us was very big. I was 5’9″ and weighed 150 pounds. Charlie was 5’6″ and about 140. What we lacked in size we made up in fearlessness. Neither of us was afraid of getting hit. He became my best friend. Since he was a year older and had a car, he drove whenever we went anywhere. Charlie is the only person who routinely called me by my last name. I always liked it.

During Charlie’s senior year, we started taking trips to the mountains of north Georgia. We would drive a couple of hours and hardly say a thing to each other, and we were both fine with that. On one trip Charlie had a plan to climb a mountain he had seen the summer before. We drove two hours to get there, the last 45 minutes through winding mountain roads. I’ve always gotten carsick easily, and by the time we stopped I was green. As always, as soon as the car stopped, Charlie jumped out and just started hiking up the mountain. I tried to keep up, but I was more nauseated with every step.

We made it about a third of the way up when I lost lunch and everything else. Charlie just looked over at me and said, “Let’s get over here.” He found a small cave with an overhang we could sit under. We crawled in, and I sat with my head between my knees. Then it started to rain. After a while, an amazing, beautiful rainbow appeared. We didn’t talk.

Finally Charlie said, “Are you ready to go?” He knew I still didn’t feel like climbing the rest of the way.
I just nodded, and we walked down the mountain, got in the car and headed home. He wasn’t disappointed in me. It was just one of those things.

Though we went to the same university, our interests diverged. Charlie thrived in a fraternity, but that was not my thing. He became a business executive, and I went to seminary and then to medical school.

But I always remembered our adventures in Charlie’s car.

Our trips made me think Charlie understood Jesus’ message far better than I did at the time. Despite the determined way he marched off, what mattered most wasn’t getting to the top of the mountain. It was that we set out together and when I couldn’t go on, he chose to stay with me all the way. What better story of friendship could one have?

The writer of Proverbs tells us “Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin” (18:24). Charlie and I were right for each other when the time was right for us. I have no doubt I could call Charlie right now and if he could, he would be there for me. I know if he called me and needed something, I would do anything I possibly could for him. Friendship when you are young has a special quality. Sometimes it’s superficial, but other times it helps to forge the kind of person you will be in life. I have always wanted to be the kind of friend Charlie was to me that day.

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