Faces on Faith: Farewell for now
I knew something had really changed when I did not have to wait to make a left turn out of the church parking lot. Our northern friends have begun the journey to cooler climates and spring time song birds. Over the past few weeks, there have been farewells every Sunday. “We’ll see you in October, pastor.” And with a warm hug and a tender tear we say goodbye, with the hope we will see one another again in the fall.
Goodbyes are always a bit tough. And the most difficult farewells are those that feel so final: the farewell of the passing of a loved one. We find great comfort in the memories we hold, and the love, prayers and support of friends. The Bible tells us we can have even greater comfort than that. We can have an anticipation of a reunion day with those we love.
Jesus spoke these words to His followers. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3). Jesus was speaking about heaven, a topic the fills the pages of the New Testament in the Bible.
Recently someone gave me a powerful book entitled, “Soul Keeping-Caring for the Most Important Part of You,” by John Ortberg. Ortberg says that one of the deepest needs of the soul is the need for a future. He quotes Dallas Willard who said, “We are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe. But we are also like grass. We are going to die.” Solomon in his wisdom wrote, “God has set eternity in the human heart.” It is interesting that Ortberg points out that of all of creation, only humans understand that they are mortal that death awaits us. But we humans also understand that we were created uniquely in the image of God, with an immortal soul that will live beyond the life span of this earth suit we now wear.
That all means that there will be a reunion day. Not only will I see our folks again in the fall I will see our folks again in eternity. But that reunion does not happen by chance. There is preparation and planning that must take place for the “snowbirds” to return. The same is true for our eternal reunion.
The disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How do we know the way?” (John 14:5). Jesus gave them the roadmap the plan: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). Jesus had told the Pharisee Nicodemus earlier, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
I love reunions the ones that happen in the fall and the one that will happen in eternity. And with that reunion, there will be no more partings.
The Rev. Dr. Daryl Donovan is the senior pastor at Sanibel Community Church.