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"Separation's Revelation"

"Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised."

Song of Solomon 8:7

This mornings devotional is long because its part devo and part sermon preparation as I am way deep in studying, pain, suffering and loss as I am teaching through the book of Job in our midweek service on Wednesday nights. In chapter 1, I am right at ground zero of Jobs pain and suffering which has caused me to go back and think through the issues that present themselves when we suffer loss or separation from those we love.

I can recall a conversation I had with my parents as I was preparing to go away to college about the strain a long distance of separation can put on a relationship. My parents told me pretty much matter of fact, "distance makes the heart grow fonder" or it's, "out of sight out of mind." I thought there is no possible way I could ever be guilty of, "out of sight, out of mind" because of the way I felt at the moment. At the time I thought that it would be humanly impossible for me to forget someone I claimed to have such strong feelings for, but my parents were right.

It didn't take long at all as I discovered what I was feeling was just that, a feeling and as time does in all things, "it tells." I remember reading a book on pre-marriage counseling that tried to explain the difference between "love and lust." It said lust is like a 9-volt battery, starting out bright but eventually it just burns out over time. True love on the other hand is like alternating current (electricity); it just keeps going and going burning bright all the while. The only way to know the difference between lust and love is time. They look exactly the same in the beginning but over time lust just flames out.

Francois de la Rochefoucauld once said, "Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires." Absence really does have a way of making the heart grow fonder and increasing our passion, but only if what's in our heart is love and not lust. For example, like most Mom's, my wife loves our children and grandchildren at the deepest place of her heart and soul, way more than she ever thought she was capable of loving.

When our children were little (heck, she is still this way) my wife could only stand to be away from our kids for just a few days at a time. (She still wishes they were little in many ways, but thank God our children are having babies of their own she can care for.) I could see the effect that their absence had on her and though they were out of her sight they were never out of her mind. Early in our marriage this frustrated me when I would take her away for a week or longer on vacation that only after a few days away I could sense her missing her babies and longing to get back home to them.

As I began teaching the book of Job last week I recalled a teaching on the life of Christ and a particular dialog Jesus had with His disciples in John 14. I was reminded afresh that when you love someone, I mean you really love someone, their absence from your life creates not only sorrow but tremendous sorrow in your heart and is why Jesus told the disciples there in John's gospel to not let their hearts be troubled. Though Jesus was about to go to the Cross and then return to His Father in heaven, one day He would return for them and all of us who would come after them who believed in His name.

Jesus knew that His absence from those that He loved would only make their heart grow fonder of Him because He was going to give them something, actually someone else who would come to them and be with them and in them, constantly reminding them of all that He (Jesus) had taught them. The reason then that absence really does make your heart grow fonder is that the greatest expression for love is "one". Our hearts grow fonder in absence because we long to be reunited or "one" with the one we love. God created us in His image and God is one. When God created man and woman He said, "and the two shall become one'. Jesus prayer in John 17 reveals His greatest desire for us, "that we might be made one in Him." Love longs for oneness. Makes sense doesn't it why absence creates a longing in our soul. And you just thought you were going crazy, ha!

It makes no difference if it's a spouse being away on business or a mother leaving her children for a few days to go on vacation with her husband, absence creates a longing in the human heart that loves. The reason to me is simple, God created us for oneness and oneness is experienced through community and unity, and when either is broken for whatever reason, we feel its effects in our lives, we feel out of sorts, out of step.

Just know today, loved one, if you have ever been in that struggle over the loss of just about anything that you love you are not alone. The good news is beloved of God; in Christ we have a future and a hope in Jesus Christ. We have a guarantee from God Himself that He staked His very life upon and signed in His own blood that though absence is going to be part of our experience this side of heaven, Jesus will return one day to receive us to Himself. That's right, we are going to be reunited with the One who loves us and gave Himself for us so that we can once again be one in Him, everyone who has ever called upon the name of the Lord will be reunited together one day. And in the in between time, God has promised us a helper, the Holy Spirit to give us comfort when we hurt, help when we need it, and the hope for a beautiful "new normal" one day! It will be heavenly for sure!

"Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation"

2 Corinthians 5:18


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