Many of us grew up with brothers or sisters. Even if you didn’t have siblings, perhaps you grew up around cousins or other family that were your age. Siblings have love-dislike relationship at different stages of their lives. Even though there might be sibling disagreements, arguments, and moments of intense anger, the reality is that family is still family. At the end of the day, a brother is a brother, and a sister is a sister. There are joys and struggles that siblings share as they grow, and in these experiences intense bonds are created that indeed last a lifetime if cultivated in the love of Jesus Christ.
My brother, Chris, will tell you that there were moments when we just didn’t get along. Perhaps one of us wanted the TV on a certain channel, the other one wanted to keep it on the current channel. One beat the other to the shower to get the hot water before it was used up; the other brother would either have to wait a while to get the warm water back or wait until much later to enjoy the blessing of a hot shower.
We would argue about games we played outside. “That’s not how it’s played!” “Yes it is!” “Stop calling me names!” “Stop throwing the ball at me!” And on and on it would go. As we got into high school, our tempers cooled, especially since we rode together (sans Mom and Dad). And even when I went awayto college at Wake Forest, I still remember my brother finally saying on the phone, “I love you, too.”
Yes, siblings will be siblings, but at the core of it, brothers and sisters love one another and care for God’s protection and blessing in the others’ life. I love my brother with all my heart. I am so very, very proud of him, not just because of all he has accomplished but because he has lived a life of hospitality and accommodation. My brother has a growing number of friends who respect Chris for his generosity, his willingness to help them in various ways, and for his deep-seated desire to show the love of Christ in the way he treats other people.
June is the month we celebrate Father’s Day and Chris certainly fits the bill as a dotting dad who simply adores his son (my nephew), Cam, and constantly looks for ways to make more father-son memories on a weekly basis. Additionally, his business peers respect his leadership and management skills as Director of Sales at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, TX. He is well-rounded and well- grounded, and he makes sure that there is adequate time for traveling to football games to support his almamater, The Florida State University.
It’s important to seize moments when siblings are together, too. One of my favorite memories of my brother and me take me back to my junior year at Wake Forest. I kept up with Chris from Winston-Salem (he was finishing his senior year at Roswell High in Roswell, GA) and heard about all the incredible events and experiences he was sharing as his senior year was beginning to take shape.
To give you a bit of a back-story, my brother has always been a gifted athlete. Growing up, I had the privilege of coaching him in baseball and basketball, and Chris was an MVP caliber player everysingle year. Though he wasn’t flashy or scored all the points, my brother found ways to make other people better, either on the court or on the field. I always admired my brother’s eye for the assist; he consistently found a way to make others better while concurrently helping them feel better about themselves (this still happens as he manages his sales team at the Hyatt Regency). Chris was his peer’s teammate...everyone wanted to play alongside Chris and acknowledge his talent and abilities for sports.
But the coaches at RHS didn’t necessarily see it that way. One year, Chris tried out for the baseball team. As he scooped up balls and made super plays in the infield, the coach felt that while Chriswas indeed special, he was looking for someone else. It seemed like all his friends knew Chris was an MVP not to be overlooked, but the coaches thought otherwise. From the stands my brother would cheer for his friends, enjoying their success, knowing all the while (or perhaps I am speaking for myself here) that he could be on the court, or on the field, making a lasting, winning contribution.
Fast forward to the RHS Homecoming Football Game. I had received a tip from my parents that my brother was selected to Homecoming Court—yes, his peers voted him onto the court to represent his senior class. Among other guys in his class, Chris was chosen to escort a girl onto the field that night, under the bright lights of the stadium on a Friday night. Little did Chris know that driving at nearly warp speed, coming home from Wake Forest was brother! I wanted to surprise him. I wanted him to know that my presence at that important moment in his high school career was more than just celebrating his place on Homecoming Court, but to show him that I was proud of the way he had handled disappointment and frustration from coaches and teachers. I was proud of how he never complained. I was proud of how he continued to support his friends who were athletes. I was proud that MY brother was on the Homecoming Court, selected NOT by faculty and staff, not teachers and coaches, but only by his peers. That’s right...Chris was chosen by his peers. His peer-following meant that his classmates respected his kindness, his encouragement, and his ever-present, contagious smile.
Sitting in the stands, along with my parents, I waited with bated breath during the half time announcements of the 1997 RHS Homecoming King and Queen. Finally it came. “This year’s Homecoming King goes to….CHRIS WATSON!”
Even as I write this article, I get emotional thinking about how absolutely honored I am to be the brother of the Roswell Homecoming King of ‘97. And as I look back at my younger years, I would give anything to take back my verbal outbursts of sarcasm that were fired in his direction. I wish all my moments with him were not filled with either judgment or jealousy. But those moments, both good and not so good, helped me see how blessed I am to have a brother with whom I can experience the grace and forgiveness of God. Yes, we experience sibling rivalry still today (we are competitive), but in the end, we are always brothers. I am my brother’s keeper. Always. Oh I wish I could have been there to remind Cain of the words of the Lord when God said to Cain in Gen. 4:6-7: “Then the Lordsaid to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Cain, don’t be jealous! Listen to your brother’s desire. Remember, he is your brother. Be proud of him! Celebrate his offering! Celebrate your brother! Cain didn’t think he was his brother’s keeper. What was it to God that he was asked concerning the where abouts of Abel? It means everything...not just to care for and look after our own siblings but we are mandated to care for each and every person we meet. For all who are downtrodden, downcast, hurting, marginalized, rejected, hurt and lonely… I am my brother’s keeper. You are my brother’s keeper. We are our brother’s keepers. The call still resonates, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” A brother’s keeper looks like a Great Samaritan, willing to help and heal, and go the extra mile.
For all my faults and my misgivings with my brother through the years, I am honored by God’s grace that I get to indulge in my relationship with Chris on a consistent basis. My brother always knows, no matter what, that I am present to hear his heart, listen to his concerns, and take his problems to God whenever he asks me to do so.
The story doesn’t stop at the RHS football field during halftime. No, praise God, it doesn’t stop there. Back at Wake Forest, I took out a letter addressed to me from my P.O. Box. It was from Chris. On his Georgia Tech stationary he mentioned to me how my presence there at that field that night meant so very much to him. He reminded me of how much love he felt and how much he looked up to me and loved me. Somewhere in my office at home, that letter is stuffed away in a book written by Ronde and Tike Barber entitled “By My Brother’s Side.” My brother’s words will stay with me for a lifetime. He loves me and I love him.
Amen! The call for each of us is to take the God-given love of family into a world that doesn’t respect or appreciate the gift of family itself. The desire that our Father God has for us to see each person as part of our human family. How will we care for him? What are we willing to do for her? What sacrificewill we give to be present for someone at their moment of greatest need? Let’s all sit in the stands of others’ lives, cheering and celebrating their lives, reminding them that they are loved, honored, and cherished. Why? Because Jesus lives. And he is the keeper of our heart.
And all God’s people said? Amen.
Love to allmy brothers and sisters in Jesus’ name!
><> Pastor Will <>< John3:30