If you’ve been in Prague Christian Fellowship any length of time, you’ve said some goodbyes. Our reaction to someone moving away can range from a mild nuisance to total devastation. The factors affecting our response can be varied; our ability to form emotional bonds, the length of time we’ve known the person, and the degree to which we’ve made ourselves vulnerable to them.
Out of Our Comfort Zone
We’ve met some Czechs who maintain a life-long circle of friends and family which doesn’t change much over the course of their entire lives. They had stable childhoods, attended schools with little turnover and often maintained friendships for life. I’ve heard some honestly admit their limited expectation of relationships; “I already have all the friends I need. I don’t want any more in my life.”
Life in the Kingdom of God is so different! We exchange our guarded life of self-preservation for a life of risky relationships – challenging, thrilling, diverse and extremely enriching relationships. We are called to love those unlike ourselves, to cross self-imposed boundaries and reject inherited prejudices. Quite honestly, we are called to love. This decision, by the very nature of love, involves saying yes to pain – the pain of separation, rejection and even loss. It hurts. It’s uncomfortable.
After 20 years in PCF I’ve lost count of the number of painful goodbyes. My modus operandi has evolved into – “I don’t say goodbyes. I say, “See ya later.” It is a bonafide miracle (aka: God’s grace) that I’m always excited to meet new people.
Rewards of New Relationships
I’ve been meditating on the realities of heaven, on Lordship and the Beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5:3-10). Thus, when I saw Isaac recently at church and my heart leapt for joy, I immediately had a spiritual impression which greatly encouraged me.
Isaac attended PCF when we arrived 21 years ago but then moved to the UK many years ago. He was a young Nigerian believer with a deep passion for God and a beautiful, warm smile. We had hoped to find him and invite him to the PCF reunion last summer, but we couldn’t. No one we knew had his contact details.
I can’t explain why I was so happy to see his middle-aged face after such a long separation. All I knew was that the moment I saw him, I had a revelation about the realities of future reunions in heaven and how unspeakably joyous each one will be.
I heard in my spirit what I now call a “new beatitude,” and it shifted my perspective on all the painful goodbyes.
‘Blessed are you who has suffered many goodbyes in this life.
For great and multiplied with be your joy in Heaven when reunited in perfection!”
As you read the Beatitudes you will notice that the second through fifth include the future tense of the verb shall. It speaks to me of current situations influencing future spiritual realities. Our current discomfort can lead to future delight. In Heaven, every investment is rewarded. Nothing is overlooked. Everything is repaid.
I could add onto the new beatitude;
“But woe to you who refuse new relationships now.
For your life could be enriched and you could be a blessing to others in this life
and in the life to come.”
With God’s Help
All of the Christian life can be summed up by Lordship. Will we allow God to be the Lord of each area of our lives, including our relationships? Or will chose to walk away from relational opportunities, and refuse to make the emotional investment required to be a friend to someone new?
Knowing the emotional cost, let us ask the Father to expand our capacity for new relationships. Let’s tap into His Spirit to live beyond our limited relational capacity. There is no need to doubt. God will supply. And best of all, we will not suffer loss in the end. We will all be joyfully reunited in heaven, and we will be rewarded for each person we loved. ■