What a Friend I Have In Ryan!

posted by Dr. John Thweatt, Lead Pastor of First Baptist Church in Pell City, AL
I can’t believe Ryan let me have his blog for a week! I have been thinking for the last few weeks of what stories I could make up—for instance I thought about telling you that he called me the first week of his vacation telling me he was laying naked on a raft in the middle of the pool drinking strawberry daiquiris wondering what day it was, but I didn’t want that mental picture to ruin your morning!
Then I thought about telling you how he went to a tattoo parlor to get his belly button pierced and to get GOD’S WORD tattooed on his knuckles, but I was pretty sure you wouldn’t buy that one either so I thought I would just tell you the real story, but I knew if you wouldn’t buy the ones I made up you certainly wouldn’t believe what really happened!!
So I decided to restrain myself and to spend some time today telling you why I love your pastor. We met several years ago through Steve Parr’s parents. Bill and Ora were members of the church in Huntsville where I served as pastor. I was feeling God call me to a prolonged fast and didn’t know what to do so I called a friend in Huntsville who walked me through it and prayed for me every day while I fasted.
As I was finishing the fast, God was calling Ryan to the same type of fast. He shared that with Steve and Steve told him to contact me and I was able to walk him through it and pray for him every day. That started a relationship that has gone south ever since!
My parents used to use to say someone was joined at the hip with someone when they were close. I can honestly say I am not joined at Ryan’s hip, but we are joined in several other areas. For example:

  • We are joined at the call. I cannot tell you how important it is to have a friend who knows what you are going through and know one knows what a pastor goes through like another pastor. I know Ryan has referred to Buddy, Ron and me often and I know Ron and I refer to each other just as much. (Buddy is smart enough to keep our friendship a secret!) 1 Samuel 18 speaks of David and Jonathan’s friendship—“As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” There are times God graces us with friends who share His same call and when we can find a friend like that we are truly blessed!
  • We are joined at the run. Many of you have heard the story. Ryan had finished his first marathon and was encouraging me to run one. I said something like, “Ryan, I don’t even want to run 26.2 miles…” Well I did start to walk very soon after that so that I could lose some weight and one day I told Ryan how long it took me to walk a mile. All of you know how merciful Ryan Whitley is and that mercy came out in his next question—“What were you doing? Picking up trash?” I cannot tell you how ticked off I was…I was not going to let a former offensive lineman out run this former tail back ever again!
    I cannot tell you how much fun we have had running together. I used to hear people say, “If I ever see someone smiling while they are jogging I’ll start…” and I know they have never seen us running. There are times that I have almost fallen on the ground laughing at the stories Ryan has told me and there was one time I almost died watching Ryan on the ground because he tripped over a root. I can tell you this—if Ryan Whitley fell in the woods and no one was there to hear it—it would make a huge sound, but he would take the time to stop his watch!
  • That brings me to the last thing—we are joined at the laugh. I live by the mentality if I am going to do something I would just as soon laugh while I am doing it and Ryan helps me in that endeavor. There have been times that we have cried together, well Ryan cried and I listened…and there have been times that we have poured our hearts out over the stuff that comes with being a pastor, but for the most part we have enjoyed life together.
    Psalm 126:2 says, “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.” God has certainly blessed me with friends who make that happen in my life day after day. I love your pastor and am thrilled to be able to call him a friend, but I want to ask you something. Who is the David or Jonathan in your life? Who challenges you with a picking up trash comment? Who laughs when you laugh and weeps when you weep? Who comes and sits with you when your daughter gets a pace maker or sends you a note of encouragement at just the right time?

If you don’t have a Ryan-type friend in your life you are missing out. I would close with some encouragement and maybe a warning.

  1. If you have a friend like that let them know how much you appreciate them and love them. I am thankful to have the opportunity to do that today.
  2. If you don’t have a friend like that start praying for one.
  3. If you need a friend like that be a friend like that!
  4. Make sure that friend is not someone of the opposite sex (your spouse is an obvious exception to that rule!) I cannot tell you how many people have gotten into trouble by ignoring that last one.

I look forward to being with you for the rest of the week—don’t forget you have a Friend who will never leave you or forsake you—spend some time with Him today.


2 Responses to “What a Friend I Have In Ryan!”

  1. 1 Ryan
    July 16, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    I have never met John Thweatt. I have no idea who he is. Someone has mugged my masterblogger, Vaughn, and taken over this webpage. Somehow, some way, he cropped my picture in with his in the marathon photo.

    I do know a John Thweatt who pastors FBC Pell City, and if this is the man, we should all start praying for him immediately.

  2. 2 JenB
    July 16, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    Thank You, Pastor Thweatt, for a glimpse of the Ryan Whitley we don’t see from the stage on Sunday mornings!

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