I have a confession to make. Sometimes, as much as I know that Heaven will be a home beyond my wildest dreams where there will be no tears or sickness or death, I find myself feeling quite comfortable in my happy little life here and not in much of a hurry to get there. It’s probably a pretty common ailment among those of us Christians who are blessed to live in a safe, stable, affluent country where we face very little real persecution and are free to live “peaceful and quiet lives” (1 Timothy 2:2). But there is one thing that always reminds me how fantastic Heaven is going to be, and that is being separated from dear Christian friends.
Trevor and I realized not long into our courtship that we were going to spend our lives missing people. First, we were missing each other for most of the 20 months we were dating and then engaged. (That was particularly lousy.) Then I was missing all my friends and family at home while we lived in the UK. Now that we live in America, we have been blessed to rekindle old friendships and form wonderful new ones, but we long for dear freinds we grew to love while living in Scotland, and Trevor’s family are all an ocean away as well.
I have often thought and said, especially when we or friends are in times of transition or relocation, that I wish I could just have everyone I love in the same place. It’s a long list, though, and I have a feeling not everyone would cooperate with my plan. And so, with that in mind, I look forward to the day when we will be reunited with so many Christian friends we have loved over the years in Heaven, where sin will no longer taint our relationships and death will no longer snatch them way.
This past Monday, Memorial Day, we were able to catch a tiny glimpse of what all those reunions will be like. Our dear friends, Andrew and Carol, and their two precious children, Tabitha and Oscar were “in town” for one day only, and we seized that day!
Once upon a time, the two of us couples were acquaintances, working together every Friday night at a children’s outreach called One Way Club at our church in Scotland. But after a couple years of working alongside each other, we found ourselves no longer just partners in ministry, but wonderful friends. We played and laughed together and shared our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows.
In 2004, just a month before Pippa was born, they moved back to their home in Northern Ireland to pursue the ministry the Lord was leading them to in Mexico City. Though we’ve stayed in touch and even managed to have a couple of visits with them while we were still in the UK, once we moved here, we wondered if we would ever get to see them again.
Enter Swine Flu. God does work in mysterious ways, doesn’t He? Thanks to scary times in Mexico, Andrew and Carol and their family went home for a short, unexpected visit to Northern Ireland, and on their return trip to Mexico this week, had a 24-hour layover in New Jersey: still a good hour and a half from where we live, but tantalizingly close compared to the thousands of miles we were used to.
So we piled our gang in the van and off we went. We picked them up at the airport and had a practically perfect (and I only say practically because with sixchildren under the age of five, some things are bound to be less than perfect!) afternoon, evening and morning with this dear family before seeing them back off to the airport. Every moment was precious, even though we spent almost all of them in our two adjoining rooms at the airport hotel.
When Tabitha saw Pippa and Romilly across the airport, all three of them ran to each other and gave huge hugs. After a van-ride with “Baby”, as she called him, Beatrix and Oscar were soon the best of friends, too.
After letting the kids exhaust themselves playing (it didn’t take much for poor jet-lagged Tabitha, who just wanted to go to sleep all afternoon!) and ordering in pizza for dinner, we got all six little ones to bed by about eight. Then we grown-ups spent the next two hours whispering in the dark in Andrew and Carol’s room with the adjoining door cracked so we could keep an ear on our girls.
We never did get around to playing Phase Ten dice like the good old days, but we had a rich time of sharing all that the Lord has been doing in our lives in the nearly three years since the last time we were together. We laughed over old times, and talked about the future. What a joy to see them, and an even greater joy to know that we will see them again one day!