One of my closest friends on the planet was married yesterday. This is a union that we have prayed and prayed and prayed for since the beginning of our friendship over 20 years ago. My heart has ached all week over missing this very special event. In fact, my heart is still tender this morning. I missed being there to share in the joy of my friend.
My brother and sister-in-law were married four years ago. I missed their special day too. I was not there to experience their wedding and share the blessing with my family. I remember feeling so lost and out of place on that day in June because I so wanted to be with my brother and his new wife.
Very tragic and devastating losses have occurred in my family’s lives over the past seven and a half years since our arrival in South Africa as well. In each of those times, I couldn’t be there to embrace, to support or to love in person. There are times when the United States is just so far, far away.
Now, please, do not get me wrong. I love living in South Africa and love our missionary life. I have no doubt in my mind or any struggle within my heart about our missionary calling. Our God has affirmed our decision to become and to remain as missionaries in southern Africa more times than I can count. However, that does not mean that there have not been sacrifices that have cut into the core of my being because of this decision.
The separation is heartfelt.
There is a constant ache in my soul for my family and friends in the States. This pain intensifies when something significant, whether joyous or sad occurs; and I am not there.
I miss the people I love. It’s at such times that I cast my whole heart, soul and being upon the mercy, grace and love of my God.
He has assured me time and time again that this separation is such a short period of time; just a blink of my existence, really. One day, my family, my friends and everyone I am acquainted with who has placed their trust in Jesus Christ will be joined together for eternity. Christ’s return will signify the end of every form of separation in my life.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6 NIV
The Hebrew transliterated word for wait is qavah. One of qavah’s meanings is to collect and bind together. I love that! This waiting period is similar to the strands of a rope being bound together with patience, hope, peace, grace and mercy. This waiting period and time of separation between my family and my friends counts for something beyond my understanding or comprehension. I am strengthened. I am made ready. I am collected up and bound together in Christ today, tomorrow and every future day as I ultimately wait for His glorious return.
Times of separation in life and death will be no more! Halleluiah!
Now this is something to wait and hope for with all of my heart and soul.
Yes, I have missed weddings, memorial services, holiday gatherings, baptisms, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and many more significant life events of my family and friends. I would have loved to attend every single one. I could not. My God asked my family and me to follow Him to South Africa for this particular time and for His particular purposes whether seen or unseen.
You see, I never left my family or my friends when I arrived on the mission field. I brought them with me in my heart. Their joys, their sorrows, their blessings, their hardships, and their special, special days and their difficult ones too, are part of me. What a gift I have been given! Even as I have ached this past week, writing out this post, makes me realize what a tremendous gift of love and hope I have received in my life through the gift of my family and lifelong friends.
Soon, our separation will be no more. I look forward to that day!