John and I left mid-morning on Friday to go to the National Cattle Congress up in Waterloo, Iowa with some old friends of mine and their sons. We made a commitment to each other a couple years back to invest in each other's sons and to try to do at least one Father/Son gathering each year. I suspect that these will get more involved and the commitment more serious as our boys grow into young men and we are trying to lead them into authentically Christ-centered masculinity.
At any rate, our boys had a great time with us as dads and we men had a ball re-connecting with each other. There was a bear show, a tiger show (8 tigers up close!), a trick roper, rodeo clowns, bull-riding, bronc-busting, steer wrestling, barrel racing, calf-roping (both team and individual), and, perhaps most important carny food-$3 pizza slices, $4 lemonade, $5 funnel cakes, etc. So we ate junk food, took the boys for pony rides, let them see all the entertainment, and took them back to Cedar Rapids exhausted. A good time was had by all.
I was reminded too how good friends don't take a lot of time to catch up with. Within a couple hours, it's almost as if it hasn't been months since you last saw them. I also saw my good friend and former boss, Steve. His years of experience in ministry and deep devotion to Christ always make him a good sounding board for me as I find my way in ministry and life.
As I get older (not that I'm an old man yet), I realize what a privilege and blessing it is to have good men to share the journey with. In fact, more and more, I'm realizing the wisdom in a statement I heard an old pastor make years ago, "If you finish life with six good friends to carry your casket, you're a very fortunate person." I agree. Rich friendships are rare and greatly to be treasured when they are found.