As a small boy, I grew up on a farm in Michigan’s “Thumb” area. There were few children of any age for me to play with. So, I invented an imaginary companion named Jim Marks who was my pal as we played football for Yale, baseball for Cleveland and basketball for New York. We worked together to defeat the bad guys when I played “Cowboys and Indians” or “Secret Agent”. Jim Marks was always by my side, my faithful friend.
Years later, when I left home and moved to the “big city” of Bay City, Michigan, a young man sat down at my table at the Home Dairy Cafeteria one evening and introduced himself as Jim Marks! We became best friends for that summer and went to the movies, ate together and did what young people today call “hanging out”. The real Jim Marks was my friend for that summer. He left for home in the fall and I never saw him again.
When I wrote “Acquisition”, “Sell Out” and “The Investment”, the hero, Wilson McCann, makes a friend in a young farmer named Jim Marks. At critical times in these stories, Marks comes to McCann’s assistance with good advice, prayer and actions that display his faithfulness as a friend. Jim and his family are Christ followers and his Christian influence rubs off on McCann.
Recently, I experienced a series of physical ailments that involved a lot of medicine, tests and restricted diet. I became pretty depressed and felt alone at times as I faced these problems. During this time, one of my morning devotional readings was centered on God’s faithfulness.
The scripture quoted was from the book of Lamentations by the profit Jeremiah. This little book, written around the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian Empire in 586 B.C. was written, in part, to show that God suffers when His people suffer. The scripture referenced was the 22nd and 23rd verses of the 3rd chapter. It reads Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. This really spoke to me of God’s faithfulness to me as I went through my illness.
Thomas O. Chisholm wrote a poem in 1923 about God’s faithfulness over his lifetime. Chisholm sent the song to William Runyan in Kansas, who was affiliated with both the Moody Bible Institute and Hope Publishing Company. Runyan set the poem to music, and it was published that same year by Hope Publishing Company and became popular among church groups. The first verse of that great hymn reads:
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.
Many, if not most of us, have sustained difficulties in life. I and my family have experienced family, financial and physical problems. When it seems as though the normal course of events has turned decidedly against us, we find that God remains faithful. Unlike my imaginary friend, my summer friend or my fictional character, Jim Marks, God is a very real presence in our lives and He remains faithful to us. He doesn’t change. He is steadfast. His compassion never fails. He is our faithful friend now and forever.
I pray that you have experienced the faithfulness of God. If not, I pray that you will experience it. In a world that seems at times to be turning upside down, His faithfulness is, as Thomas Chisholm wrote in the final verse of his song:
“strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”