A Friend’s Example

A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
and poverty will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man.

Proverbs 24:33-34 (NIV)

It was the first summer of college and, like most young college students, I needed to make some money. I had a part-time internship but it paid little. So, I cobbled together a string of jobs. Each weekday morning at 5:00 a.m. I started my day driving a paper route delivering the daily USA Today to convenience stores. In the evenings and weekends, I worked at a bookstore in the mall. I mowed a few lawns. And, I always kept my ear open for potential odd jobs. So it was, when a large denomination was holding their global conference in Iowa, I spent a week babysitting for a small gaggle of bratty pastors’ kids all day.

I had a friend who joined me in the day care operation and together we oversaw boys ages 8-11. There was a lot of down time as we watched over the kids in various activities, and so we had a lot of conversations.

It’s funny how certain verses are tied to very specific memories for me. It was during that week of babysitting that my friend and I somehow got talking about Proverbs. I remember that it surprised me a bit, because I never thought him to be one who would read the Bible. But he told me that he had a favorite passage and then he recited to me..

A little sleep, a little slumber,

    a little folding of the hands to rest—

and poverty will come on you like a thief

    and scarcity like an armed man.

He recited it with such precision and heartfelt conviction, that it has stuck with me the rest of my life. I can’t read these words without seeing folding his hands as he said the words, and hearing my friend’s unique vocal cadence saying them.

But, there’s more to this story. During that week, the two of us were mere acquaintances. That week planted seeds of friendship that grew into one of the most fruitful friendships I’ve experienced on my earthly journey. We had very different paths, he and I. In the 35 years we’ve been friends we’ve never lived in the same city (with the exception of a few summers home from college). We had very diverse academic and vocational paths. We’ve had very different spiritual journeys. In fact, his perfect and sincere recitation of these two verses is a rare and exceptional display of any sort of spiritual or religious conviction from him.

Thus, I find myself in the quiet this morning thinking about me and my friend hustling our butts off as teenagers and working multiple odd-jobs day and night to make money for college. I’ve observed from afar my friend pursuing his own difficult academic and career path with diligence and conviction. I’ve witnessed and celebrated with him as he has experienced tremendous success in his chosen field.

Looking back, I realize that the Proverbs he recited with such conviction, on that hot Iowa afternoon so many years ago, were words that he had ingested into his very life. He was speaking them from his soul. He embraced their wisdom and it was leading to him to the development of the virtue of hard work in his studies, his vocation, and his life.

I’m grateful to my friend. By his living example, he has taught me that it is one thing to read the words and understand what they say. It’s another thing to internalize their wisdom and let them motivate and guide my behavior.

<— Click on Solomon for an indexed list of previous chapter-a-day posts from this series from Proverbs!

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

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