Good-byes

You may call me melancholy after reading the beginning of this post and perhaps by the end you will have labeled me long-winded and random.  Admittedly, all these evaluations host far too many truths in them, but hey this is a free world so proceed at your own risk…

To me it seems as though life is punctuated with far too many Goodbyes.  From the positive side of things – a painful goodbye means you have discovered and experienced love and close friendship.  There would be no pain of separation if this were not so.  Sometimes though I wonder if the pain of goodbye outweighs the pleasure of knowing you have experienced heart connection.

But then I realize to shut myself off from heart connection is to go against how I’ve been created.  God created me to be a dependent person.  How that goes against my “independent” spirit at first admission!  But read God’s Word with open mind and you will soon be forced to admit that the reason we were created is for fellowship.

Perhaps that is why there are so many troubled people in this world.  We spend our waking hours dashing hither and yon on some preconceived have-to agenda while missing out on the true meaning of life.  Think about the times you consciously made the effort to smile at the person you pass in the grocery store aisle or the friendly wave you gave to a pedestrian.

 Nowadays with our hectic schedules and our harried existence, people do a double take when accosted with a person willing to connect at even the merest of levels by just making eye contact and smiling.  This attitude of “I’m too busy to show a person I’m human” is a far cry from the gab-fests on the local general store porch of by-gone days or the impromptu chat with the person in line with you at the store.

 Aren’t God’s people here on this earth to connect with others?  Perhaps our lack of connecting with others is an accurate gauge of our connection, or lack thereof, with our Heavenly Father.  I suppose I’m telling on myself by tossing out that speculation.

 For me though, it holds true.  The mornings that I start out feeling rushed and not having that minute or two upon waking to reflect on the mercies of my Heavenly Father, those are the days where people get under my skin.

As humans we don’t like pain and so we cringe at the thought of soul intimacy because for true intimacy to happen, there needs to be a vulnerability at the very core of who we are.  And where love is, there is bound to be hurt at some level, sooner or later – perhaps at the necessity of saying goodbye.  And so we attempt to fool ourselves into believing the fallacy that we can be independent.  We need fellowship, folks.  And not just skin deep friendships but those friendships that go straight for the jugular.

First and foremost, we are created with a huge God-vacancy in our hearts.  And until we acknowledge that vacancy and fill our needy souls with the fellowship of our Creator and Father, we will spend our days as a lonely, hopeless drifter.  Relationships with others will never progress and will fall apart more than be patched up.  Without our abandonment in friendship with God, we cannot realize the depth of human fellowship for which we’ve been created and for which we long for.

I realize that by now you think I’ve journeyed down a twisted rabbit trail never to find my way back to my original thought. (welcome to my world) 🙂  However, what got me thinking down this line was the goodbyes that have punctuated my life of late.

On November 17 I said my final goodbye to my beloved dad.  That was the conclusion of 6 previous painful goodbyes while he lingered after life support was pulled, never knowing if I would be present for his final breath.  That is by far the most painful of goodbyes.  And with every goodbye, I would remember the flippant goodbye of my last phone conversation with him just hours before his accident that rendered him unconscious for the ensuing month.  Oh the myriad of things I would have told him/asked him if I would have known that would be my last two-sided conversation with my dad, my hero, my corner-post, if you will.  But after his last breath was drawn there was still the awful, deep-seated horror of saying goodbye to his earthly body and watching it descend into the cold dark grave.  The pain and grief of goodbye has never been so deep before.

On a different level, I recently said goodbye to a country that has stolen my heart – the day I left Haiti.  And I left some of my dearest friends behind.  I think perhaps the goodbyes were so much more poignant because of my recent reality check that we aren’t guaranteed a reunion with our loved ones here on earth.  You never know which goodbye will be the last contact with your loved one here on earth.

In all of this lengthy blurb, I think what I am reaching for is this: Live your life in soul intimacy regardless of the pain that will most likely strike.  And please leave nothing unsaid that you wish for your loved ones to know.  Allow trusted friends into the very depths of your heart and soul.  I can attest that the light of love and friendship is at first very harsh in the deep, dark recesses of your heart where none have scuba-dived before.  But yet in that harshness and vulnerability, there permeates a certain comfort in the knowledge that you are loved at the very core of your being.

Most of all, though, I urge you to allow Your Savior, Your Lover, Jesus Christ, to enter into even those areas of your heart that you may not allow human presence.  Jesus will never grieve you with a debilitating hurt.  And best of all, there are no painful goodbyes with our Redeemer or our Creator Father because He dwells within each of His children forever.  No one or nothing can come between us and no one can pluck us out of His loving hands.

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January 7, 2012

Bon jour from the land of Haiti – the land of poverty and heartbreak – the land of God’s beauty rising from ashes of a ravaged country.  I and 4 of my friends landed in Haiti on Monday Jan 2nd.  For my friends it was the first time here, for me it was a joyous return to the people that have been tugging on my heartstrings since my first trip 2 years ago. 

My sister-friends who are missionaries at International Faith Missions in Fond Parisien picked us up at the airport.  It’s been a great week, renewing friendships with the Haitians in Fond Parisien.  I spent 2 days working at the clinic pharmacy.  Yesterday we went to the Croix de Bouquet Market for material.  I’m having the greatest time seeing the wonder and sometimes, shock registering on the faces of my friends who are seeing the sights for the first time.  While pushing our way through the masses of humanity at market, I could sense God telling me to look at these people with His eyes and see His hopes and visions for the people living in a land of bondage to Satan.

This is a land of flamboyantly active spiritual warfare.  The thought is sobering – am I armored up for this exposure to Satan.  This week I’ve been doing a devotional on dependency on Jesus.  Jesus has selected us imperfect, sinful humans to work for Him and proclaim His praise and glory.  In our imperfection, we make a mess of everything but in our Jesus-dependence, it is no longer us trying, it’s us getting ourselves out of the way and letting Jesus flow through us and work in us.  When we realize that we are not able to answer God’s call on our own but that we need to rely on Jesus, that is when God has us right where He can use us.

If you’re like me, sometimes you get so focused on your imperfections and your past failures.  At that point, God can no longer use us because our eyes have left Jesus’ face.  Our focus needs to be on Jesus and His ability to use us.  Peter started sinking when he started looking around instead of at Jesus.  Satan’s waiting for us to take our gaze off of Jesus so he can get us stuck in the mud of our past.

My challenge to myself and to you is – where is your focus?  Are you dependent on Jesus or are you trying to live out your calling in life on your own strength?  “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9