I have been thinking about something my mum said to me. I was 22 and she was taking me to the airport to fly to Malawi for 3 years to teach theology. She looked at me in the airport with moist eyes and said, ‘If I cry it is because I’m sad for me, but not for you’. I didn’t realise until years later how hard my being away was for Mum. In a few weeks time it will be yet another year passed from Mum died and I feel the same as she did. If I’m cry it is because I am sad for myself, not for her. In heaven she has been healed from her struggle with the Multiple Sclerosis that tried to rob her of her independence. I would love that she is here with us, but I would never begrudge her heaven.
Life is full of things that separate us from the ones we love – for me it has been oceans, continents and death. We learn that we can’t keep everyone close. I often say that I have three homes – Belfast (Northern Ireland), Mbuna (Malawi) and Cape Town (South Africa) – and no matter where I am I am homesick for two places. Separation and loss is part of life. However it is not part of our spiritual life. While at times it feels like God is remote, when we struggle to hear His voice, or we have wandered far from Him, but the truth is that we cannot be separated from God:
Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These verses bring such comfort to me when I have to say goodbye to too many people that I love. God and His love are dependable and reliable, steadfast and unchangeable- in life these are qualities that we lack and yearn for.
Lord, while I miss those I love as we are separated by Oceans, Continents and death, help me remember that none of these are a barrier to you and that I am never on my own.