Walkabout Part Two
Vol: 24 Issue: 23 Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Some months back, an unexpected sequence of events brought an old friend back into my life. The details surrounding how it all happened are a bit fuzzy, but, to make a long story short, I found myself on the phone with one of my very first partners when I was a police officer in Texas, many more years ago than I like to contemplate.
Wylie Porterfield and I went to the police academy together, and instantly became fast friends. A few years later, we were fortunate enough to be able to work together as a team. And what a team we were! It was all very heady; we were young, we were on a mission, and we were invulnerable. (Or so I thought at the time.)
There is something unique about the partnership between two cops that defies conventional explanation. We knew everything about each other, our wives, our kids, what we thought was important in life, and how we hoped to do something special.
In some ways, we were like brothers. In other ways, we were like an old married couple, bickering over nothing, too close to hide the bad days and too honest with each other to hold back the truth.
Sometimes, that had a tendency to rub the wrong way, and there were more than a few times when it wasn t pretty. Like family, only closer.
So when I heard Wylie s voice on the phone, it was quite an experience. We caught up on such things as we could, given that we hadn t seen each other in close to twenty-five years. In fact, we still haven t.
The other day, my old friend called me up again. We talked about the old days, and how nice it would be to see each other again. After I hung up, I thought about our conversation.
I thought about how excited I was to hear from Wylie, all these years later. Even more, that he was as glad to hear from me as I was from him. Try as I might, I can t recall anything about my old friend and our years of service together that was remotely negative.
I know we had fights, but I can t recall them or what they were about. I know that there were times when I disappointed him, and I am sure there were times that he disappointed me.
But I can t remember the specifics, and, if I could, I would prefer not to. I wouldn t want some past event to cloud the joy I felt when I heard my friend s voice.
I called Wylie back day before yesterday to accept his invitation to visit. Accordingly, Gayle and I are on another walkabout this time to Texas, to the same town Wylie and I patrolled all those years ago.
Gayle and I haven t arrived at Wylie s yet, but we are on the road. I am in a hotel room in Louisville, Kentucky at the moment I anticipate seeing Wylie sometime tomorrow evening.
So, what does my this is what I did at summer camp story have to do with the Omega Letter and our mission?
I couldn t help but meditate on the joy I felt having heard from my old friend, after so many years. We hadn t talked in decades, but after the initial awkward moments, we picked up right where we had been before, as if no time had elapsed at all.
It made me think of that Christian who, having been out of touch for so many years, now fears that God will demand an explanation for where he s been, and why he s been out of contact for so long. So that phone call gets put off indefinitely.
I thought about what it must be like for God to hear unexpectedly from one of His old partners somebody with whom He had patrolled the mean streets long ago, before time and circumstances created that distance between them.
After all that they d been through together, it was as if the relationship was only important to one of them. Until God gets that call He s been waiting for and then all is forgiven and forgotten. Nothing is more important to God than restoring that relationship.
It was so important that it was worth His Own Blood to make it right. And God sits there, waiting for the phone call that will restore that fellowship He so desperately misses.
You don t even need a quarter. You can call collect.