This past Monday I spent much of the day fighting back tears that kept welling up and spilling down my face despite my best efforts to control them. I am not a person prone to crying about things that happen in my own life. I readily admit, and my husband of over 40 years will definitely testify, that I can cry like a river in sentimental movies and TV shows—even during Coke commercials— and certainly when I’m talking with others who are hurting or praying. But I was caught off-guard by the unexpected shower of tears that streamed down my cheeks. What were the cause of the tears? The night before I had said ‘good-bye’ to our youngest child and only daughter who was returning overseas to be a ‘worker’ for the Lord. Although I am thoroughly supportive of and very pleased by her choice to answer God’s call to ‘go and tell’ others about His life-transforming love for them, I was overcome by a sense of loss of her physical presence.
We have always been close, but during this past summer while she was home for an extended furlough I felt that our relationship shifted from being one of ‘mother and daughter’ to more of ‘friend and confidante’. She is a very godly woman, and many others besides me will attest that just being in her presence is a blessing! I had the joy of going on walks, on lunch dates, to church services, shopping, and just hanging out at home with her. My emotions were heightened by the knowledge that she won’t be home again for almost two years, and that it’s highly likely that this past summer will be the last time I’ll have the luxury of being in her presence for such an extended period of time. By God’s grace and the gift of technology, we will be able to communicate via phone calls, emails and texts, but it’s not the same as being ‘in person’ with her. It’s her physical presence I miss and for which I yearn! (Note: As I write this, I am keenly aware that family members of those who serve in the armed services or work in other occupations where extended travel is necessary know exactly what I mean) I also realize that in the future she could be in a relationship with a godly man with whom we’d be sharing her —a relationship I pray for and would rejoice in, but I also know it’ll change the dynamic of our relationship. Whatever the future may hold, I realized how precious the time was that we had this summer, and that it would never be quite the same again. And I realized that I was mourning that reality.
I chose to put on some praise and worship music to help me focus my thoughts upon the Lord. I knew I had to draw close to Him, my Comforter and High Priest, and be immersed in the comfort that only He Who has endured pain and suffering for my sake and Who ‘knows me best and loves me most’ could provide! (2 Corinthians 1:3-5; Hebrews 4:15). As I was praising Him, the Lord gave me a revelation I’d never considered. I’d certainly thought before of the grief God our Father must’ve experienced as He watched His beloved Son suffer and die an excruciating death on the cross, and I’d contemplated what it must’ve been like for Jesus to leave behind all of the glories of Heaven in order to come to earth, to experience rejection and betrayal by the people He came to save, as well as the physical suffering and death He endured in our place for our sake. However, never before had I considered the heartache the Father and Son must have both suffered from being physically separated when Jesus took on ‘flesh and blood’ and came to earth! Yes, while on earth Jesus could pray to His Father any time, and we know He often did, but like me longing to be ‘face to face’ and enjoy the physical presence of my daughter, I’m sure He and His Father missed being physically together, side-by-side! I was humbled and overcome with gratitude that God my Heavenly Father and Jesus my Savior were willing to suffer the heartache of being physically separated from one another so that I might never have to be separated from them!
Nor had it ever occurred to me before that when Jesus came to earth and became man that the relationship that He and the Father had known would never be quite the same again. Jesus didn’t just take on human flesh for the 33 years that He walked on the earth. He permanently became God incarnate— ‘God made man’—forever changed by having become flesh and blood for our sake, forever pierced on his side and marked by nail holes in his hands and feet. As David Mathis, executive director of DesiringGod.org, wrote regarding Jesus:
“His humanity isn’t a costume. The eternal divine Son didn’t simply make a cameo in the created world. He forever joined our humanity to his divinity and for all eternity will be fully God and fully man….Jesus didn’t shed his human skin. He still has a body—a “glorious body,” a perfected human body, a body like we haven’t yet experienced but one day will experience when he transforms us.” *
Jesus chose to forever become and be limited by being ‘Man’, which also would forever alter His relationship with God His Father. That doesn’t mean they were not still equal in importance, nor does it mean that they weren’t still of one mind, heart and spirit. However, the nature of their relationship changed because Jesus became ‘clothed in humanity’. Our Heavenly Father and His beloved Son Jesus were willing to have their relationship with one another changed forever so that you and I could have our relationship with God changed forever! Jesus’ becoming ‘flesh and blood’ and dying the death we deserved to die for our sin made it possible for those who put their trust in His atoning death on the cross to go from ‘death to life’, from being out of fellowship with God to being ‘born again’ and forever adopted into His family!
A final revelation I had was that as much as I long for my daughter’s physical presence, I long even more to be physically in the presence of Jesus my Savior and God my Father, to see them ‘face to face’! (2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 22:4) It is why we as believers can be set free from fear at the prospect of death, for we can be confident that to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ! (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)What unspeakable joy it will be to be in His glorious Presence forever and ever!
As you consider changes that have taken place in the relationships in your own life, whether a child entering into a new stage in his or her life, a spouse or parent experiencing dementia or physical limitations that alter your relationship, or even the passing of a loved one, I encourage you to pour out your heart to the Lord as I did. Feel free to mourn the change in the relationship, but in the midst of your pain, I encourage you to keep your eyes fixed upon God! He can turn your mourning into dancing as you realize that He is with you throughout every change in your relationships, and He can use the very changes to draw you closer to Him, as you consider Him Who was willing to be separated from His Heavenly Father and forever become Man so that you and I could be transformed into His likeness and enjoy His Presence for all eternity!
*The Permanence of Christmas, Part 1: Biblical Foundations, Jesus is Still Human, desiringgod.org, December 22, 2008
Written by Julie