June 15, 2021

by Michelle Bauman, Director of Y4Life

I’m a big fan of reunions. Like a child looking forward to Christmas morning, I find myself eagerly anticipating gatherings of all shapes and sizes. I can’t wait to begin the feasting and late-night conversations, to experience the hugs and shared moments, to embark on the memory making and laughter that is certain to come.

That was definitely the case leading up to last weekend—I slept little and anticipated much! Perhaps my excitability was just a product of extroversion, or maybe it was a recognition that some of the things I cherish most—time, fellowship, and meaningful conversation—were soon to arrive. Whatever it was though, I know I wasn’t alone. I could tell many of you were looking forward to our reunion too.

However, this weekend held much more than I was anticipating; at the end of our reunion, I went on to have another. Some of you know that my aunt passed away Thursday morning. I received the news as I was traveling to gather with you. Though I had hoped to stop and visit her on the way to our retreat, God called her to Him before I was able to arrive. It was a merciful and loving act. She had been longing for heaven, and Jesus brought Carla home permanently on Thursday morning.

So, on Saturday, I drove up to Cedar Falls and spent the afternoon and evening with my remaining aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was a much-needed reunion, a time of comforting, strengthening, and memory-making. But it was also a powerful reminder not only of the gifts God gives us in the people He places in our lives but also in the promise that we will one day spend eternity with them and HIM. Because of Jesus, this reunion caused by death was transformed into a gathering filled with LIFE and HOPE.

Reunions only happen after absences, and absences aren’t easy. We were made for each other—for family, and community, and oneness—but because of sin, we experience separation. We miss each other. We grow sad. Jesus recognizes this. When He tells His disciples He’s going away, He knows that they are filled with sorrow. (John 16:6) But He doesn’t leave them there. Instead, John 14-16 records Christ’s life-affirming, hope-giving promises, promises that culminate in eternity with Him.

Do absences and sorrows fill our lives? Yes. But so too do reunions and joys.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20).

May we rejoice in the reunions Christ provides today and look forward to the reunions He promises for all our tomorrows.