“One with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Another day and another reason to be thankful. Today we’re going to be talking about something you really can’t do without, but which far too many folks are trying. Much research has shown the negative impact of a lack in this area. We live in a world today, though, where the very essence of this thing is misunderstood and twisted in ways that make having it in place in our lives much more difficult than it should be. So what is it? Here goes…
Today, I’m thankful for a middle of the night phone call. Believe it or not, in a dozen years being a pastor I think I’ve only gotten one or two of these ever. I’ve often heard other pastors tell stories about getting calls necessitating their getting up in the middle of the night multiple times per year; sometimes multiple times per month. That has not been my experience. Now, I’ve slept through a call or two in the middle of the night from one of our boys not wanting to stay all night at a sleepover, so I guess it’s probably good I don’t get very many midnight calls because I may not answer them. Now, I’m not complaining, mind you. I like my sleep. Just observing. But I’m grateful for this one I got.
It came from my best friend in the world, Jason. Jason had some stuff going on in his life that night. What it was isn’t important right now. What was important was that he needed to talk and he knew I would answer and listen until he didn’t need to talk anymore and the time of day didn’t matter. The reason he knew that is for the reason I just gave: he’s my best friend in the world. I could call him just the same and he’d answer.
Jason and I have been friends longer than I can remember. There’s an embarrassing picture somewhere of us as babies in a bathtub together. We’re both approaching 40 now. That’s nearly 40 years of us sharing life together at every point. We’re like one soul that got split into two bodies. Seriously.
We both come from solid Christian families. We both have terrific parents. We both have one sister. We went to the same church until we graduated high school and when our families left the church in our sophomore year of high school, they both left at the same time. We went to the same junior high and high school. We were the best men in each other’s weddings. Both of our wives are named Lisa. We both have three boys who are spaced out roughly the same amount of time apart. We don’t do the same work, but we’ve been in the same field since graduation. We’re both active in our churches today. We like the same sports teams. Should I go on?
The simple truth is, our lives wouldn’t look like they do today if the other hadn’t been there the whole time. My life is infinitely better because he is my friend than it would be otherwise.
Now, we don’t talk every day. We only get to see each other maybe once a year. We text every so often. But our souls are knit in a way that is really only approximated by marriage in terms of a similar relationship (and again, we both married Lisa’s so we’re knit there too). When we talk, it’s like we haven’t missed a beat. We just pick right up from where we were before and continue on like we never missed a thing. Because we didn’t.
Solomon here understood this. He was in a position in which he had a whole lot of “friends.” The Hebrew word there could also be translated “companions,” which conveys a less familiar image and is probably a better translation than my trusty CSB offers. When you’re rich and powerful like Solomon was, everybody wants to be your friend. They want to be your friend because they want something from you. But Solomon did apparently have at least one real friend. He had a Jason. And it made all the difference.
Now, neither of us is rich or powerful. We don’t have people seeking us out because of anything we can do for them. But more broadly speaking, we live in a world where people have hundreds, even thousands of digital “friends” about whom they know nothing. When I dig a bit on my Facebook page, it tells me I have 735 friends. I couldn’t even begin to tell you who all those people are. There are probably even a few who I don’t even really know. And that list is a whole lot smaller than what many folks have. The temptation is to look at that number and feel good about how “connected” we are. After all, isn’t that what Facebook is supposed to be all about? And while I know a goodly number of that 735 would come running if I needed them, they wouldn’t do that because I “friended” them on Facebook. Too many folks have come to ruin after they’ve posted something on social media for their hundreds of followers and nobody noticed it. One with many friends may indeed be harmed.
Here’s the truth: We need friends. Not Facebook friends or social media followers generally. Friends. Real friends. I’ll make that even more specific: You need a friend. You need a Jason. You need someone with whom you can share absolutely everything and know they’ll love you just the same when you’re done. You need someone who can call you in the middle of the night no questions asked. You need someone for whom you would drive halfway across the country in a pinch if they needed you. You need someone who stays closer than a brother. You need someone you love with all your heart and who loves you back the same and who isn’t your spouse. You need a friend.
I have one. And for that I am supremely grateful. See you tomorrow.