There is a Friend who Sticks Closer than a Brother

This past weekend I attended my best friend’s wedding, and although I am not normally an emotional guy, I spent much of the ceremony crying my eyes out! I cried because of how much I love Jonathan and his now wife, Alison. More importantly, I cried because I was so moved by God’s faithfulness in our lives. Jonathan and I were not always best friends, and if it were not for the voice of God, I don’t know if I would have ended up in his wedding! Here is a brief story of how we became lifelong friends, and how God blessed us and many others through our friendship.

In August of 2016, Jonathan and I met each other on the first day of college. We were both introverts and overwhelmed by all the freshman year chaos. Although we shared many common interests like piano, guitar, tennis, and basketball, Jonathan was very standoffish! I had developed a solid friend group of 5 or 6 guys, and it always seemed like Jonathan did not want to hang out with us! Occasionally, I would text him individually and we would grab lunch, but it was hard to get him to join our group. However, about halfway through that first semester, we started to get much closer. We were both recruited by the Wesley campus ministry to lead worship. As we practiced and played music each week, we began to really enjoy our time together! 

Even though I had grown to love hanging out with Jonathan, my other friends were not convinced that he was a fun friend. Jonathan did not drink or go to parties, and he was pretty socially awkward that year. I was a follower of Jesus, but still struggled with drinking and trying to be popular at the expense of obeying the Lord. The craziest thing started to happen: whenever I would pray, Jonathan would pop into my head. I would be thanking God for my friends, and even though he was not the coolest friend or the one I hung out with most, he would just constantly come up in my mind. So, throughout my freshman year, I started to ask God to help Jonathan and I become close friends. My goal in asking this, I told God, was that he and I could help each other love the Lord more! 

By the time freshman year came to a close, all of our friends were trying to live together. I really wanted Jonathan to live with us, but my other friends had doubts about whether he would be a “fun” roommate. Because of my prayers, I felt strongly that Jonathan needed to live with us! It took some convincing, but eventually I pulled him into our housing plans. I am so thankful that it worked out that way, because the last three years of college led to so much spiritual fruit in our lives and in the lives of our friends.

During our sophomore year, Jonathan and I read the entire Bible together. We led worship at our campus ministry, and each began to disciple people. One of our good friends who lived with us went from doubting God’s existence in August to committing to Christ and getting baptized in May! In addition to reading the Bible together daily, Jonathan and I would run together, play tennis or ping pong, and pray for each other’s families. At one point on a walk, I told Jonathan, “You know I prayed so much last year that God would make a way for us to be close friends.” His response shocked me. He said, “That’s crazy because I prayed that you would be my friend all of freshman year too!” From his perspective, he was worried about finding a single friend who followed Christ, so he asked God to bring our paths together.

Flash forward to his wedding, and I could not contain the emotions of nostalgia, gratitude, and love. I have seen my friend pursue Jesus more and more each year. I’ve watched him honor Alison through the process of dating, engagement, and now marriage. He has always put her needs above his own, just like how he has treated me and so many others. After the wedding ceremony, I asked Jonathan and Alison what their favorite part of the weekend was. They both agreed that it was making the seating chart for the reception dinner. When I asked why in the world that the best part for them would be this, Jonathan said, “we strategically seated our friends and family who love Jesus next to our friends and family who do not know God. I was so amazed and proud of them at the same time! Even in planning their special day where all the attention should be on them, they cared most about their friends hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When people ask me how I have seen God move in my life, my friendship with Jonathan is always near the top of the list. All the friends who weren’t sure if he would be a fun roommate or not were all groomsmen in his wedding alongside me. There were many guys a few years younger than us who credit so much of their walk with God to Jonathan’s faithfulness in their lives. Jonathan grew up like the ‘older brother’ in the story about the prodigal son in the Bible. I grew up like the ‘younger brother’. Jonathan’s theology is much more reformed than mine, and we even have different political views! But the beautiful thing about our friendship is that more than anything we are much brothers in Christ, and we have each other’s highest good in mind. Whenever something happens in my life that leaves me devastated or confused, he is the first person I call.

Our lives look very different now than they did in college. Instead of being roommates, we live about 10 hours away from each other! He is married and doing life with Alison! However, I do not worry about losing a friend. I am confident that we will always keep in touch, and that God will always provide the people that we need in each season of life. If you are desiring Christian brothers or sisters in life to push you toward the love and grace of Jesus, I would encourage you to ask God. Ask him today, and then tomorrow, and keep asking. He does not want you to be alone, and we know that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him! (Hebrews 11:6) Talk to your heavenly Father today about what you need, because He wants to bless you and comfort you. Proverbs 18:24, “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Author | Charlie Knox





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