George Washington said that True Friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation. Friendship is one of the great blessings from God. Norman Vincent Peale used to tell a fantastic story of a friendship of shared sacrifice and commitment.
It was a wonderful day on the west coast. On a beach near San Francisco, two San Francisco State College freshmen decided to go for a swim. Shirley O’Neill and Albert Kogler flung themselves into the refreshing surf. Al took the lead. The two freshmen swam out about fifty yards to calm water and then began floating lazily in theCalifornia sun. Little did they know that they were being watched. Being sensed is more like it. One of nature’s most dangerous creatures was stalking its prey. A great white shark was moving in for the kill.
All of a sudden, Shirley heard a scream. Al was being pulled down by something. His head reappeared caked with blood. Al yelled in agony, “Get away, Shirley! Get away! It’s a shark!” Al didn’t want her help. If sacrificing himself would save her then it was worth it.
Shirley was paralyzed with fear and shock. Al’s words rung in her ears. After what seemed like an eternity, she turned toward shore and began swimming for her life. But then she stopped. She couldn’t leave her friend. She had to help him…if she could.
The water was full of red blood. She reached for Al’s hand and then pulled back in terror. His arm had been ripped from his body. She wrapped her arm around Al’s chest. He was alive. Shirley began kicking her feet and stroking with her free arm. The two friends began the slow journey toward shore. Would the shark return? Would it bring its friends? Shirley was getting tired. Al’s body seemed to get heavier every second. But she would not let go. She would not leave her friend.
Finally, Shirley could touch bottom. At this point, she was exhausted. She could go no farther. She tried to scream for help. All that came out of her mouth was a weak yelp. Nobody would be able to hear that. Miraculously, Joe Intersonine was fishing some distance down the beach. His eyes for some reason turned. He could hardly believe his eyes. Joe began running toward Shirley and Al. He then flung his cast like a cowboy with his rope. The line perfectly landed beside Shirley and Al. Shirley wrapped it around her waist and Joe reeled them into safety.
By this time, many people saw the trouble and ran to help. They laid Al on the beach and put a blanket on top of him. Being a devoted Christian, Shirley asked if she could baptize him. Al had never had any use for religion but at this moment his heart softened. He nodded “yes” to Shirley. Shirley ran to the water and gathered some in her swimming cap and baptized Al. Al was taken to the hospital and died two hours later.
Many of us will never be in a situation to sacrifice our lives for someone else like Shirley and Al. But that doesn’t mean we don’t sacrifice our lives. If our motive and desire is to put other people before our self then we do sacrifice our self. Sacrifice is a necessary ingredient of loving people.
As the Ancient Writer told us, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.”