Airports are great venues for people-watching. Over there are the company folks, huddled around their leader, soberly nodding at her wisdom or overly laughing at his humor. Then this other group must be a sports team—they’re all wearing the same thing, though gathered in cliques. (Once, in the Kansas City airport, I fast-walked my way through a big group of big “kids,” only to discover later it was the Green Bay Packers.) Disney families are easy to spot, whether excitedly going or exhaustedly returning. What moves me every time, though, are the heartwarming hellos and the heartbreaking goodbyes—expressions of gladness or sadness of people coming or going. Sometimes I wonder how many have experienced both in the same trip—a tearful parting from the parents on the way to a joyful reunion with the fiancé, for instance. Life is full of emotional departures and arrivals, right up to the end—and through it, actually.
We know the goodbyes of death all too well, for we bid our final farewells from the departure gate. But what welcome greets our loved ones upon arrival, and what awaits us at our appointed time, as well? Truthfully, there is much we don’t know, but the Bible tells us what we need to know—those united with Christ through faith in Him arrive into His presence. The apostle Paul longed to “depart and be with Christ.”1 Also, according to Jesus, when God said, “I am the God of Abraham … Isaac and … Jacob,”2 long after they were gone, He declared these ancients still to be living and Himself still to be their God. At Jesus’ transfiguration, who were with Him but Moses and Elijah, both having lived and died centuries beforehand?3 And when would the man crucified next to Jesus be with Him in Paradise? “Today.”4
Sometimes when losing those we love or speculating about our own departure and arrival, we try to fill in the blanks with our limited imaginations, which are inescapably rooted in this world—speculation about celestial fishing holes, golf courses and bingo halls, for instance. In truth, what we will encounter is far higher and greater than anything our thoughts can dream up or our hearts contain. Assured Paul, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—the things God has prepared for those who love him.”5 This is the God who escorts us to departure and awaits us at arrival. He is that good; we rest in Him.
Father, you are forever faithful. You are with us in our comings and our goings. Grace us to rest in you so completely for our future that we live our todays in joy, freedom, purpose and love. In Christ we pray. Amen.
1 Philippians 1:23
2 Matthew 22:32
3 Matthew 17:1-8
4 Luke 23:43
5 1 Corinthians 2:9