Friday, June 28, 2013

My Friend George

It was my first day of doctoral studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. We were asked to find a seat around a large square of tables. I sat down next to a guy in a tweed sport coat with a distinguished looking, salt and pepper beard. We didn't say much at first, but soon we got acquainted. "I'm George Flanagan."

So began a wonderful friendship that has spanned and blessed the past twenty-one years of my life. George and I, along with John McCallum, have enjoyed the journey so much more together than we ever could have apart. So many memories . . .

I remember sitting through seminars, listening to lectures, debating theology and talking shop, with George's natural gift of sarcasm always shining through.

I remember the freedom that George felt to identify B.S. whenever he heard it, and I don't mean Bible Study.

I remember George visiting the churches I served many times through the years to train our staff and lay people in vital ministry skills, and always getting the same feedback about him - there's nobody better than George.

I remember countless rounds of pretty pathetic golf, usually just the two of us, George often stopping in the middle of the round to stand under a tree and talk or to ponder why we didn't bring more golf balls.

I remember the day George showed up early to hit a bucket of balls and lost the head off of his new K-Mart driver.

I remember lots of meals, the unhealthiest food we could find, cinnamon rolls, onion rings, greasy bacon cheeseburgers, but the conversation was healthy indeed, keeping us both stable and grounded through all the ups and downs of ministry.

I remember the stunned look on George's face when he came to pick me up for a retreat and Suzanne told him that she and our three preschoolers had decided to come along. Priceless.

I remember George's music, strumming and singing the 60's, Pete Seeger, and all kinds of folk songs and ballads because, "all the new stuff sucks."

I remember the phone calls in times of crisis and need, George's gentle spirit and encouraging words, and the comfort I felt in knowing there was a friend I could count on for anything, anytime.

More recently, I remember George complaining about one part of his body after another, on the golf course, in the car, on a walk, just about everywhere, causing John and me to wonder, "Just how old is George?"

After all these years, here's the truth of it. Everyone should have a friend like George Flanagan. Then everyone would be blessed as I have been blessed. And that's no B.S.

A very happy 65th birthday to my friend George. God's best blessings on you and your family.

1 comment:

George Flanagan said...

Wow! Thanks, Drew. In fact, it's good enough to be my obituary--but I'm only turning 65, not turning under! Life is slower, and probably healthier, since you left Missouri, but I sure wish you were still just a few miles down the highway. Peace, brother!