I just returned from a wonderful weekend with the best friends of my life. The occasion: “Spring Owners Meetings” for our fantasy football league. Actually, it’s just an excuse to get together every spring break to share life with old friends.

The good looking guys you see here have been friends for more than twenty years. We first met at the University of Texas while we were involved in Campus Crusade. When we get together for weekends like this it is like old times, and we all agree on one thing: These are the most meaningful relationships in our lives.

Life-long Friends are Made in College

While not true for everyone, I’ve found that most people make their life-long friends in college. These friendships almost always are stronger than those from childhood, high school, or those after college. There is just something about the atmosphere of being away from family, rooming together, staying up way too late, going on mission trips, playing practical jokes, uniting in prayer, and serving in campus ministry together that quickly build relationships.

The friendships that started on campus have now lasted through some of life’s greatest pains and joys. Since our days together at UT we’ve seen each other through the death of parents, the birth of children, periods of unemployment and underemployment, weddings and marriages, struggles with singleness, bouts of depression, overseas missions, promotions, cancer, surgeries, and more.

During our time of prayer together Saturday night, some of us were in wonderful season while other were in a difficult season. A year or two ago the same guys may have been in the opposite place. After twenty years of friendship, we’re able to see God’s faithfulness over time as we have stood with one another during periods of trial and rejoicing. We ended our time of prayer on Saturday with these words from Psalm 30 that reflect on God’s favor during these seasons:

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.”

Life-long Habits are Formed in College

No matter the season of life, we’ve all continued to walk with Jesus. All thanks, of course, goes to God for His faithfulness toward us and His relentless pursuit of us. We’re also thankful for our campus ministries and churches that taught us how to pursue God while we were at the University of Texas. Indeed, we even taught each other how to do so.

The habits we developed at UT included prayer, Bible study, fellowship, disciple making, service, evangelism, missions, giving, small groups, worship, and more. These are the rhythms we keep to this today. We each spend time with God almost every day. We give to our churches and to other missionaries and non-profits. We care for and serve our cities and the nations. We active in local churches and ministries. We have strong marriages and love our families and children well.

Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow Him daily. We’re all on that path, and we all have plenty of room to grow. But it was some of our first steps together in college that set in motion the life-long pursuit of God and His purposes for us. More than twenty years later we’re still on this path together, helping each other along the way.

Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.