by Stan Mitchell
“Every parting gives a foretaste of death; every coming together again a foretaste of the resurrection” (Arthur Schopenhauer).
- I was just four when I stood at an airport and said goodbye to my friend Chucky at the Salisbury airport in Rhodesia. I asked my parents if he would ever come back “from the sky.”
- I was almost eighteen when I said goodbye to Paul. He was killed in an auto accident, just a year older than I.
- I was forty-five years old when I stood at the grave of my mother and said goodbye.
A preacher once declared that he never made friends in the congregation he served because he knew he would have to say goodbye one day. I have made friends in every congregation I have served!
I have endured this “foretaste of death” too many times to take my brethren for granted. I will not tell them I appreciate them for the first time at a graveside, or a farewell potluck dinner. I will not abandon them at the drop of a hat for a trifle.
And I will appreciate the opportunities I have to be with them, to sing and pray, to listen reverently, attentively, to our Father speak. Because worship with these brethren is a “foretaste of the resurrection.”
Our songs tell us of this sweet fellowship. “We gather here, in Jesus name.” “We gather together, to ask the Lord’s blessing.” We meet each other “in sweet communion.” When we “asunder part,” it gives us “inward pain.”
And friends, time is precious.
I can’t understand a child of God who turns his brother into a “pillar of salt” in his haste to get out of the church building after services. I can’t understand a Christian who has to be bribed or browbeaten into returning Sunday night. What if you miss seeing a sister in Christ … and something happens where you belatedly realize the next time you see her will be in heaven?
Friends, our spiritual family is precious.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:11 ESV).
Some friends I will only see again in heaven. But I hope to see you this Sunday!