His countenance wasn’t beaming with its usual cheery and carefree optimistic glow.  I missed seeing that for months.  Something was wrong.

When it was right, I shouldered up to my friend and smiled.  Let’s grab a Pepsi sometime soon, ok?  He was free on Thursday so we set up a rendezvous.

It was a dive of a place but it was always quiet there.  We ordered and did the small talk until the food arrived.  Usually we did the guy thing and scarfed the food down between jawing and exaggerating.

This time we just pushed our food around from one side of the plate to the other.  We had other things on our minds besides our appetite.  It was time to broach the subject.

What’s got you down?  You’re carry a burden that is too heavy for any human.  Let me know how I can help.

There was no specific allegation against him.  But, the insinuation was loud.  There was no sin but extreme bias was locked into place.

His accuser had very few facts but lots of emotions.  He was facing a barrage of anger, insults and speculation.  It would mean a major change in his life.

He looked up without tears, “Are you going to abandon me too?” 
“Why would you ask that?”
“They made it sound really bad but it’s all speculation.  It’s like they wanted me out and I had no chance.  Now, that I’m gone so many are treating me like a pariah.”
“Of course I’m not going to abandon you.  We are friends.”
“Thanks.”

It’s odd how we forget that we have been redeemed and accepted by the One whose righteousness was offended by our choices.  He accepted us unconditionally through HIS Son Jesus.  Yet, we talk ourselves into abandoning others for far lesser offenses.  We slip into a self-righteous judgmental mode and turn our backs on a hurting friend.  I know Jesus would not do that.

My friend and I shook hands.  It was a strong shake and it lasted longer than courtesy suggests.  Our eyes met and locked into our souls.  It was a grace moment.

His loneliness would not be deepened by me.  That dark experience in life had wounded him but it was a gash that would not be allowed to fester.  Friendship and loyalty would help him climb out of that awful pit.  He would not be alone.

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