“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
I have a friend. I also have a brother. While my best friend currently resides on the other side of town from I, my brother is living—stationed, really—on the other side of the country. I go to my friend (and he, me) for certain things should they crop up while I will unabashedly spill my guts over the phone to my brother if need be. I'm reminded also of this verse from the Proverbs:
“Thine own friend, and thy father's friend forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.” (Proverbs 27:10, emphasis mine)
Irons in the Fire
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)
There have been several times in the past two-and-a-half years where certain deep issues have arisen and I could only rely on my friend to hold me up as I soldiered through. I certainly shared what I was encountering with my brother but aside from listen (and then pray), he only could do so much from a whole country away. This is understandable. My friend, on the other hand, is seasoned beyond his years (so is my brother) and without him, I wouldn't be where I am. I'm not ashamed to admit.
When I first met my friend nearly three years ago, I had two months prior seen my brother fly the nest. My brother and I had been homeschooled by our father commensurately and we grew to be more than just brothers, but deep friends. I remember as a child walking through a newly constructed mall in Burbank watching two kids play catch with some little object and wishing I had the same. Not just a brother but a close friend to, not just play catch with, but pal around in general. The dream was realized three or four years later in Oregon. I distinctly recall tossing a tennis ball around in our front yard, harking back to that day in the mall with my mom (or dad, not sure).
Cooling to a Solid
“The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: Thy mercy, O Lord, endures for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.” (Psalm 139:8, emphasis mine)
The initial remarkable thing about my friend was that he essentially replaced my brother. Not “replaced” but “filled a void”. I find portions of my person that would not have been developed had I never met my friend. I thought I was fine with my circle after my brother's departure. But what I didn't know was that my friend and I needed one another to walk through the deep issues both he and I were destined to encounter in the coming couple of years. God used him to “perfect that which concerned me” and I thank the Lord for it. Granted, Jesus is that “friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24b) and He certainly could have walked me through those issues alone, but he chose my friend to be His proxy. This is the Body of Christ in a microcosm.
I knew this early on, but my friend is moving out of state towards the beginning of Autumn. Being the decent person he is, he informed me as soon as the realization bubbled up to the surface. It was his wife's continuing education that brought them here way back then and it's their mutual choice to move away. And I couldn't be happier for them. In between the time he and I met, I have both met scores of other friends (some mutual, some not) and also had healed that wound inside me that kept me kind of closed off from other people. What can I say? He's a writer and so am I. We both tend to want to be alone. But!
“Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)