A little perspective:
Sitting at the coffee shop doing some studying and sermon writing is sometimes a mixed bag. It’s great coffee, and away from some of the distractions of my office, but it’s also a public place with other customers. And sometimes it’s a place where young mothers congregate with their two-year-old children. Did I mention the acoustics are awesome?
Anyhow, there were two such mothers with two cute-as-a-button girls sitting at the table right next to me. My earbuds are in, but I don’t think that Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones could have stopped the frequencies this one little girl could reach. For the most part, they were just fine, but there’s only so much fun a two-year-old can have at a coffee shop. Kind of confining.
But in the midst of getting my refill, I heard one of the moms tell her daughter that they were all four going to go down the street to the Discovery Center after they were done.
As the moms got their belongings together, it became obvious to the two young best-of-friends that it was time to leave. They were increasingly agitated, voicing protests and shedding tears about leaving. No amount of assurances from Mom about reuniting in a different location could appease them. Moms #1 and #2 gave promises of toys and games and fun and snacks—but it didn’t matter. Their time together was coming to an end, and it was more than these little ones could take.
“No amount of assurances from Mom about reuniting in a different location could appease them.”
When they did leave, one mom went out the front door with her daughter, and the other Mom went out the back door to her car. Each little girl watched the other one go out of arm’s reach, looking mournful, with arms reached out to the very last.
As the girls were strapped into their respective car seats, I imagined tears streaming down cheeks and whimpers.
But then, just a few minutes later, I imagined these two reunited at the Discovery place, arms extended embracing each other just as they did when they had entered the coffee shop. Then they would be let loose to go “further up and further in” to play, eat, discover, and run.
For Christians, our journey isn’t very unlike the experiences of these two little ones. The adults weren’t worried: they knew the next steps. It wouldn’t be long, and the two young friends would see each other again in a place much more fun than the place they were in.
“It wouldn’t be long, and the two young friends would see each other again in a place much more fun than the place they were in.”
Let me be clear: the grief the girls shared on leaving their together time was real. I’m not finding fault with their tears, and neither did their mothers. What they weren’t able to process is how soon they would see each other again in a better place. All they could see was the moment of departure—having a hard time living in the promise of reunion. I think we can relate.
And I think God is with us in both the now and the not-yet. He understands grief; after all, Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. But Jesus also said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27b, NIV).