“A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
We can “friend” just about anyone in social media. You can even “unfriend” them if the relationship becomes non-existent or even sour. It is likely that you have experienced both. Finding a friend liken to this proverb is a whole other matter. It goes beyond a push of a button. Here, the Bible describes a friend as one who even surpasses the biological relationship of a brother. Such a friend is said to “stick” closer to you than a brother. This term is commonly used to express a state of loyalty, affection, and close proximity.
Today I may lose the close proximity [in miles] to my brother in Christ, Gabriel Powell, but I will always enjoy the affection and loyalty his friendship has afforded me in this season of my life. I entered this particular season of my life in April of 2014 when I left the pastorate and re-joined my home church and began working at Grace to You.
Those beginning weeks I was becoming acquainted with so many new people as well as reconnecting with some old friends. It was there in the break room that Gabe and I began sharing about each other’s lives including the seminary years of old and the experiences of being a pastor. I had no idea how much our lives would be intertwined in the coming months and years. Besides working at GTY, we enjoyed being a part of the same fellowship group at our church and began co-laboring in the same Bible Study. He would lead in music while I would teach and vice-versa. We road together to our monthly leadership meetings and would car-pool for classes at TMS.
We would wonder about the future and talk about the past, all the while enjoying God’s goodness in the present. We would pray together and share the hard providences of life that only a few people get to know. All along, I had riding in my car (or sometimes in his), a tangible snapshot of this glorious verse in Scripture. Only in the wisdom and kindness of God would a friendship like this be born. God is most gracious to have given me Gabe as a friend. He is to be praised for such care and lovingkindness. How benevolent is the God of Heaven and earth.
So today, I bid farewell to my good friend Gabe. Praise be to God that the affection and loyalty remains beyond today. The close proximity in this season of life was truly an undeserved gift of God. Even now I smile thinking about the future occurrences of when our paths will cross. Such days and moments will be a welcomed delight. They will be like a homecoming to the soul. What can I say to my beloved friend but to speak the words of Numbers 6:24-26 –
24 The Lord bless you, and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’
Thank you Gabe for being a “friend who sticks closer than a brother.”