Life’s course forces us at points to part from those dear to us, which means it’s well to learn to hold lightly the people we love. Often this is the pattern:
§ The challenge comes simply at first, as we send our little ones off to school for the first time.
§ Then we discover that our busy teens actually prefer other company to their parents!
§ Soon enough we’re sending our almost adult children off to the military or to college.
§ Then we become extended family to our “child,” who now has an immediate family of his or her own.
§ That often comes with a move across the country or even across the globe.
§ This series of partings continues until, at the other end of life, we let go of everyone at once as the Lord welcomes us to himself.
I say we’re “forced” into such partings. We often try to thwart them, but that never seems to work out very well.
I was reminded of this last week when Sarah and I returned to First Presbyterian Church in Douglasville, Georgia, for their 50th Anniversary celebration. It was fun to see the people with whom our hearts had been closely knit for ten years. When the Lord directed us to St. Giles in 2007, that of necessity meant letting go of the particular ways we had held those good folks through our time there.
It was a joy to see that the ones I had let go of were still being held in the hand of the One who has the capacity to hold us securely through the whole course of life. So Jesus promised: My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me… No one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28) And he can bring it off! No turn in our lives can thwart him in holding us securely through the whole course of life.
As much as I love the Douglasville saints, I don’t have what it takes to hold them finally. And though it is harder to acknowledge, the same is true of those knit most deeply into my heart – my own wife and daughters. Even with them I must hold loosely, which is more do-able knowing that the same One who holds me securely holds them.
Reunions give us a taste of the time to come, when being in the Lord’s grip will mean that we’re together in that grip, never again to part. We’ll anticipate that grand reunion this coming Sunday as we celebrate All Saints Sunday.