A Longing to be with You
By Steve Whitlock, Pastor of Young Adults and Singles
When was the last time you really missed someone? You know, where you actually longed to be with them? The ancient author Propertius wrote the well-known quote, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” When I can’t be with someone who I love, it gets me thinking about them even more as it reminds me of why I value them so much.
When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, unable to meet with spiritual brothers and sisters, he was affected, deeply. He wrote this in a letter, “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:7–8
Paul experienced this. He lived it. Absence made his heart grow fonder. We can imagine their reunion when he was released and they were able to be together for the first time. In Scripture, we get to see a number of reunions when people saw each other again. Many were emotional, even tearful and joyful. We get to see Jacob’s reunion with Esau, Joseph’s reunion with his brothers, and the prodigal son return to his father.
I’m beginning to long for the sweetness when our church is brought back together. I don’t know when that will be, but absence is causing my heart to grow fonder for you. Grace Chapel, one day, we will be reunited. We will no longer be separated from each other. We will be together. On that day, we will pray together. We will worship together. That will be a sweet day that I’m already anticipating. Let’s allow for that as we let this season increase our longing for each other. May it fuel our love.
Relationship is how God designed us. We shouldn’t be ashamed by that. He said, right after creation, it is not good for people to be alone. Yet, there were times, seasons, punctuated moments when even Jesus practiced solitude in order to focus exclusively on the Father. This is a time when we can focus even more on being with our God and King. We were made for Him, by Him. Let’s utilize this time as we listen to Him.
Regarding not meeting corporately, let’s not miss this opportunity. Let’s make the most of it. With that said, by God’s grace may this season be redeemed, but also as short as is necessary for His plans and His purposes.
As we look forward to that day of reunion, which is coming, there is also another day that is coming. It’s a day we are told to long for. That is when we are reunited with our heavenly Father. It’s the ultimate reunion! I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:2–4
That will be a day of reunion we will never, ever forget. That’s the day we get to be together again as a church family. It’s good to long for it. Yet, let’s not allow our waiting to be a passive, missed opportunity. Let’s allow the Father to grow our love for Him and for our people. Let’s anticipate greeting each other, encouraging each other, and lifting each other up – in person! At the same time, let’s practice those things today via text, letters, emails, and social media. Let’s stay connected as best we can. Yet, remember, there is a day coming. We will see each other again. By God’s grace, may it come quickly.