Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (NIV)
I had waited a long time, but finally, the day arrived. Seated on the plane, I wondered what it would be like to see everyone again. So much had changed. Some friends had faced tragedies. Others were terminally ill and in nursing homes. A few had moved away or changed careers. Some had died, while others had prospered.
Although the flight time was lengthy and I had moments of boredom and fidgeting, suddenly, the pilot was announcing our destination. My sister and granddaughter were waiting at the airport to pick me up. How wonderful it was to embrace them and know that we would be having time together.
The next day, we went to visit my brother-in-law, who was adjusting to his new situation in a care facility. The following 48 hours brought a joyous time of reunion with old friends from my last pastorate, as well as some quiet moments at the cemetery to whisper my final good-bye to another dear one.
Later in the week, my cousins gathered for a family potluck and a walk down memory lane. Lastly, a quick drop-in visit with a former co-worker and friend finished my time of vacation.
On my journey home, I found myself contemplating how this God-given opportunity to visit and catch up with so many wonderful friends and family was just a taste of how incredibly glorious it will be when we all get to heaven!
Right now, it is by faith that we know we are surrounded by those who have gone ahead. But one day before too long, we will each reach the end of our earthly stay. We will move past the things of this life that entangle us and seek to slow us down in our individual races to become Christ-like. And on that marvellous day of spiritual freedom, our perseverance of faith in Christ will usher us into His presence — the presence of our brother, friend, Lord, and Saviour, Jesus, who through His life, death, and resurrection has made it possible for us, His followers, to enjoy the greatest family reunion the universe can now only imagine!
Prayer: Father God, encourage us this day to persevere in our Christian faith. Strengthen our weary frames. Bless us with encouragement and continued hope to look forward not only to that great and glorious reunion which is yet to come, but also to the wonderful presence of the Spirit of Jesus, available to us right here and now, this very moment. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.