January 6, 2011 § 6 Comments
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. Revelation 7:9
This has been a surreal week in the story of our lives as a family. Though we have been ‘there’ before with our son, leaving Pensacola, Florida where our daughter Emily will finish college was yet another reminder that a time comes when a child-turned-adult, leaves home. For nearly our entire married life Katherine and I planned for that moment. We prayed regularly. We hoped for it. We instilled the rationale into our children. We have always seen it as our responsibility to release our children into ‘the rest of their lives.’
But that moment when we said goodbye – Wow – We spent all those years preparing our daughter (and all of our children), but nothing could prepare us! Nothing could really prepare us for that moment – to let go – of her – of our final embraces – of the idea of no longer living under one roof. What about what we didn’t say? What about that one final, crucial piece of advice, that one final, ‘I love you’ that was left unsaid? So much…
As I’ve reflected on that moment and reality this week, it seems that at the same time that it is all so natural and healthy, it is such, only insofar as letting go is also part and parcel of life in a broken world.
Abraham was willing to let go of Isaac, his son of promise. Moses let go of a 40-year passion for entering the Promised Land. Hannah let go of Samuel, the son she had for years hoped and pleaded and prayed to be able to have. David let go of a dream to build a Temple. Jesus let go of a Rich Young Ruler that seemed so on the verge of belief. Paul and the Ephesian Elders sobbed as they let go of him, their pastor. And of course, the supreme example of letting go lies in the heart of God, who released His only Son, Jesus into the hands of a world that would unjustly execute Him. And then, Jesus’ disciples had to let go of their Friend when He returned home to heaven.
So, at the same time that I know letting go is natural and part of our development in life and faith, deep within me, I have to believe that it is the most healthy and natural thing we do under the circumstances.
I mean, you never read about the new heavens and find that we will be segregated or kept from one another. No! What we discover is that the end of time is a time of reunion. Even the seas that divide the peoples of the earth into continents will be no more (Revelation 21:1)!
So I think I get it. It is true that we weep because we love – I am a profoundly blessed man with the family God has given to me. But we also weep because we long for a day where there will be no more ‘Goodbyes’ and no more separation and no more tears at the moment of departure.
And I think that this is what is most beautiful for me in John’s vision of the new heavens and the new earth (Revelation 7:9) – Every difference and everything that separates us will have disappeared – and we will be together again – all of us in Christ – those we don’t know – but also, those we know and love – those we weren’t ready to be without – those we lost before we finished saying everything we thought we should say – those we wanted more time with. Fortunately the list goes on.
The truth is that I don’t let go well. It’s right but it doesn’t feel right. It’s healthy but it makes me sick. I don’t let go well but I want to let go of all our children for all the right reasons. Because together and separately we have this until Jesus makes all things new: He will never let go of us.
Tears fill my eyes as I write, but they are sweet tears – tears that long and that believe that the Gospel must be true.
What Good News, friends…