When separation hurts

The start of a new term has always been for me an exciting time. Today was somehow different. Oh, yes, it will be good to be back in the routine of disciplined learning. I’m sure I will love my new course. But today there was sadness too. Loneliness for close friends from last year who are now home in Europe on their way to Asia. Sadness to be left behind as friends from my last year’s Hebrew class moved on to Intermediate Hebrew.

I hear the reminder in the chapel talk on community, how the sequence of “It is good. . . it is good. . . it is good. . . it is good. . . it is good” is finally broken by “it is not good.” How God’s statement is not merely an affirmation of the value of marriage, but a revelation of his heartbeat for communion. Union. Consummation.

This comforts me.  My aching desire to have all the people I love together, my pain over separation, is but a faint echo of the great longing at the center of the universe, the longing that lies behind all of the grace that we are given: God’s longing to unite us to himself. To unite all of us forever in Himself. And, unlike my impotent longing, His has birthed a plan to end everything that separates us and to bring His great longing to fulfillment.

God had allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposes in his sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfilment in him. (Eph 1:9-10 Phillips paraphrase)

The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—

Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,

So they might be one heart and mind with us. . . .

The same glory you gave me, I gave them,

So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—

I in them and you in me. (John 17:21-23 The Message)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4 New International Version)