I have it from hearsay that the day I was born was especially hard for my four-year-old brother.
Right after my arrival, I'm told he stormed into the room, his lips tightly compressed and his little fists curled into balls.
Where is the intruder? was written all over his little face.
Mother had tried to prepare him.
“Timmy, you’re going to have a brother. A wonderful, sweet brother who's going to be your best friend.”
But he hated the idea. Someone who could steal his toys and with whom he would have to share Mother. No, it was time to defend the kingdom.
I can imagine him glaring at the little tuft of my hair sticking out from under the blanket in the crib, while Mother tried to reassure him.
"Look at Archibald, Timmy. Isn't he cute? Baby can be your friend."
Then he must have seen my helpless body with its tiny fingers and sucking lips and realised with relief that I was no match for him.
I was told he almost joyfully cried: “Is that all…He’s so tiny!”
No, this kid wasn't going to cause him any problems. And he was right. I didn't.
Right from the start I looked up to my brother. After all, he was always four years ahead of me and somehow I never managed to catch up. He always knew more and was better at everything.
I know now that deep inside he was just as insecure as everybody else. But I could not see it then and I only wished I had the same prowess and talents.
Sometimes we would play. Not too often, for I couldn't keep up and I usually ended up with a bloody nose or a sprained ankle, but I didn't mind. Out of breath, wounded or beaten...My brother had noticed me. And that was worth it all.
But we weren’t the best of friends. Far from it.
Kids grow up and eventually we went our own separate ways. My brother was smart. Good with numbers and he became a banker. A career that paid well. He made lots of money.
I was smart too, but in a different way. I found faith and became a missionary. That didn’t pay off in terms of money.
"You want to become a what? ...A missionary? Are you crazy?"
His eyed me with disdain and shook his head. His hands curled into tight balls again.
“You're throwing your life away. Stop dreaming. Missionaries are poor...and strange!”
Maybe so. But I was determined because I had found a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. I wanted to share my faith with my brother.
His eyes flashed, and for a moment, I feared he would throw me out of his house.
“You know I'm an atheist.” He looked at me with steely eyes. “There is no God. When you die you die, and then you become human fertilizer.”
Right then and there, I saw for the first time through the cover-ups. I would no longer look up to him. I just felt God's gentle love and truly wanted to be my brother's friend. That day I put him at the top of my prayer list.
For years, we didn’t see each other.
He worked for his earthly boss, while I worked for the heavenly One. He made lots of money and I didn't. He got divorced. I got married.
Then I saw him again at Mother’s funeral.
He didn't say much and was very somber. His eyes twitched a bit and he constantly plucked at his drooping mustache.
During the service I heard a soft sob behind me and I turned.
There he stood. His hands were curled again in tight balls and a desperate expression covered his face.
Never once had I seen my brother cry. But that day the tears were flowing unhindered out of his broken heart.
Afterwards he seemed confused and something troubled him.
“Where did she go?”
“She’s in heaven.” I smiled.
“You really believe that, don’t you?”
“I do. Mother was Jesus’ friend!”
His eyes had a faraway look. ‘I hope it’s true! I sure hope it's true.’
I looked at my brother. I felt that deep love, that could only come from Jesus, well up again in my heart.
„Tim, I pray for you a lot."
He looked at me for a moment and simply said:
"Thank you, Archi. Thank you.”
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