November 05, 2008

Closeness and Separation

Proverbs 18:17-24

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24


“You can’t live with ’em, and you can’t live without ’em,” my father used to say. I’m not sure who he was talking about, but I think he may have been referring to his shoes, since his feet often hurt. Closeness and separation are twin realities that call for continual attention.

For many of us, friendships are complex, for they call for maintaining those twin realities of closeness and separation. But maintaining this balance is often difficult, even painful.

On the one hand, we can smother our friendships by too much closeness. And sometimes we get close to the wrong people and choose friends who influence us in ways that get us into trouble.

On the other hand, we can be hurt by the pain of separation. Losing someone who is close to us can cause intense pain! At times we may so fear the pain of separation that we avoid making friendships. Or we keep a friend at arm’s length, afraid that if our friendship becomes too strong, we won’t be able to endure the pain of separation that may come in the future.

Proverbs speaks of a friend who is appropriately close and yet is more reliable than a brother. The Friend we need most is the Lord Jesus. He guides us between the extremes of closeness and separation. He gives us wisdom. He is our Brother in the family of God.

We are bound to each other with cords of love, Lord Jesus, and we count on and enjoy friendships that grow through our relationship with you. Help us to be like you. Amen.

About the author — Harvey Brink

Rev. Harvey Brink has retired from active ministry in the Christian Reformed Church, having served congregations in Michigan, California, Iowa, New Jersey, Illinois, and
Washington. He and his wife Maxine live near their children and grandchildren in western Washington.

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