Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Glad Reunion

Aren’t those scenes where people run to reunite embracing, tears filling their eyes, voices quivering trying to get words out, and hugs that wrap from head to toe just precious? Perhaps where you saw the scene was at the airport. Perhaps it was in a hospital corridor or the final scene of a great movie. Or even the foyer at the church around the holidays when college kids come home and friends see one another after months of being apart; there is often a squeal of glee involved as well. They are soul-stirring sights. Strangely our heart feels it deeply, even if it is only watching from a distance. Somehow you know inside the feeling that they are feeling, or you imagine how good it would feel for someone to express their love for you in such a way or be so thrilled to see you again.

I was in Keswick, England a few years back where I watched lifetime friends reunite after years of being apart. They were ministry friends that had scattered all over the world. It was a big “family” event that they all made whatever arrangements necessary from wherever places around the globe to come celebrate. I saw them run into each other’s arms holding tight and laughing with delight. It was beautiful to see. Although I knew none of them, tears would fill my eyes just watching them!

Last night I dreamed I was walking in such a place again. People were finding one another like they had been separated for long periods of time. It was beautiful. I was observing the reunions. I thrilled from viewing the panorama of joy around me. It was mothers reuniting with daughters and grandchildren; they were holding one another and the mothers were brushing back the hair from the children’s faces looking at them with intense love and deep delight. I could only hear a few lines in the background of “Oh, I’ve missed you so much” sort of conversations. It was so beautiful I awoke teary eyed. I was feeling the joy of having been apart and the overwhelming sensation of being loved in reunion back into someone’s arms.

I remember I had told someone a story the day before of such a scene that as I told her, I fought back tears to finish the story. Buddy told of the account in a sermon, but it is so beautiful I think of it often. I may have shared it before, but it is like a favorite song that you sing over and over—I tell myself this story again and again because I enjoy it so much. The story is familiar, but has a tear jerking twist. Briefly it went like this…

Back in California in the late 1800’s, when there were only telegraph systems for communication and railroads for transportation, there was a young man that had taken his inheritance and traveled far from home, squandered his fortune, and feeling the peril of his ways, he had decided to return home. Wondering if this father would accept him back, the son had written a telegram: I was wrong. Would like to come home. Tie a yellow ribbon at train station if I can come home. Unsure of the father’s forgiveness, the young man grew anxious with each passing mile wondering what his father’s response would be. Would the father hang the ribbon? Could he come home? His anxiety mounted as he began to recognize the terrain of his homeland. As he neared his hometown, he saw from the window of the train not one ribbon—but hundreds of yellow ribbons hung from trees and poles for miles out, along the train tracks to the station. The father’s forgiveness was evident and abundant! His welcome was overwhelming and sure—the young man was loved and forgiven.

As soon as I woke up, I read in scripture the story of the children of Israel not following after God. They sought idols and God’s anger was provoked. Yet He invited them to “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments”, but they did not. He said they were stiff necked and feared other gods and followed the statutes of the other nations and secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right. It is a long story in 2 Kings 17. I ached with God to see the poor choices of Israel, how He longed to be near them but they chose disobedience. Sin had separated them from God. God shows us what happened in the past for us to learn so that we can chose to avoid those same pitfalls. Much like we tell our children stories so that they will learn from others’ mistakes and failures so that they can avoid the pain or loss as they chose their future direction. So? Sin can separate us from God.

Do I have a stiff neck, seek my own ways, or make plans according to the statutes of the nation around me? Have I secretly not believed God? Perhaps that longing for the reunion scene that is so beautiful is put in us by the Father who longs to be reunited with us, to show his delight and brush back the cares from our faces and kiss them in delight like mothers/grandmothers (Ya Ya’s ) do their children/grandchildren. I love nothing more than when the grandchildren run to me, jump up into my arms and wrap their arms around me calling my name. We twirl and hug and laugh with delight. Is it so I can understand the love of Abba for me? Do we understand that’s what He feels for us?

I think that instead of ribbons hung to welcome us home that assure us we are loved and all is well between us; oddly enough, I see the trees in our Georgia landscape to be the ribbons. What if every tree was a reminder of the cross, an “I love you” ribbon from God? An “all is forgiven” lining the homeward tracks of life for miles on end? Do you feel His arms encompass you? Can you jump into His arms, twirling in glad reunion? Can you feel His delight and know all is well between you? Maybe that is why we love those sorts of scenes so well! It is created within us to impose all of those emotions into seeing Him one day.

I know it was just a dream, but one day there will be a reuniting beyond any scene imaginable. We will really truly meet our loved ones again; we will meet Him! We will run, jump, hug and twirl in His arms; won’t that be grand? May you be blessed and overwhelmed by the anticipation of that scene, that glad reunion.

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