“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” -Proverbs 18:24
One of my favorite childhood pictures is of my older brother and I at an amusement park. I am certain that we were no more than 4 and 7, and full of mischief. The picture is actually very compounding to my parents and other siblings. I share in their curiosity. You see, my brother and I were “friend-emies”, children who refused to get along, but who never allowed each other to be less than fully assured. Right before my father snapped the shot of us, we were arguing, so his next action startled me at best. Right before my father zeroed in on us and clicked his Polaroid, my older brother grabbed my hand. I looked at his face and he said, “You are always going to be okay. I don’t always fight you. Sometimes I fight you for you.”
I found this timeless photo while listening to the legendary song, “He’s That Kind of Friend”, by Walter Hawkins. With gut wrenching conviction, Tremaine Hawkins sings, “He’ll walk right in front of you to always protect you…” I thought about the many times my brother and I fought…I thought about the countless days I felt totally confused with the nature of our relationship. And then it came to me. My brother was always preparing me to stand up for myself. But much more, he was always walking in front of me to protect me as well. What a privileged little brother I have been!
In the time of Thanksgiving and harvest, I think about the scripture in Proverbs, that teaches us about friends, and I think about how God is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. I am not sure anyone prepared me more in this lifetime for what friendship was than my brother. But when I call to mind the understanding that greater than my big brother is a Friend, who not only holds my hand, but also holds my heart. He walks in front of us, even when we think that the storms of life are far too tedious to bear. He is ever near to us.
More than being grateful for food and the things that I have, I am grateful for what I don’t have. We don’t have a care in the world, knowing that God is a true friend. He stands in front of us to guard us from what He knows we can’t handle. He goes behind us to clean up that which we thought we could and failed. And in all that the omnipresent God does, He holds our hand and reminds us that we are never alone. In this time of Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for “what happens before the picture.” Oftentimes, like the picture of my brother and I, we only see the end result of a tedious battle. But the true gratitude never comes in what the picture shows. Rather, adulation comes from the small “pep talks” from God that tell us “I got you. I am always fighting for you. I am always here, and I will never leave you.” When I think of my own life and the things he allowed me to escape, avoid, and walk away from, I thank him for what people never saw. I am so grateful that, more than my big brother, God grabbed me right before I messed the picture up. Now THAT is a love!
Cleo Dailey, III is a minister, artist, freelance writer and aspiring author who has written for several city and nation-wide publications. He is currently studying to obtain a degree in both English and Clinical Psychology. He continues to travel the country spreading the love of Jesus, education of music excellence, and unapologetic light and salt of the Kingdom of God.