Straight from the Reunited Heart
By Lisa Elliot
Recently my husband, youngest daughter, and I went for a nostalgic stroll down Memory Lane. Our tour took place over an eight-hour period and covered two of the five places we lived and ministered in. The rush of emotions that stirred with each landmark felt like we'd run through multiple time zones at breakneck speed and seen our life quite literally flash before our eyes. It was a lot to take in.
The thing about having lived and ministered in so many places is that when you leave, you leave a significant chunk of your heart behind. Therefore, when you have an opportunity to revisit those places, it’s no surprise that those pieces of your heart are reignited and come back to life again.
No, the reigniting of my heart wasn’t the surprise. What was a surprise, however, was the divinely appointed encounter that set my heart ablaze. It happened in the most unexpected place at the most unexpected time in the most unexpected way. Yet it couldn't have been more perfectly timed or placed or orchestrated if we'd arranged it ourselves. That's typically the way God works.
Being sadly disappointed that we couldn't go to our favourite restaurant for lunch, we settled for our second pick. As we walked in the door to the take-out counter, we heard a voice behind us say, “Hey! We know you!” We turned around to discover friends of ours from the church we'd pastored when we lived in that community.
These friends were our very first hosts when we were praying about moving to this place. Their son instantly became one of our son Ben's best friends. They found all kinds of creative ways to minister to our family during our years there. Their hospitality was extraordinary and was ever-extended to us. I always looked forward to my friends' thoughtfully purchased Christmas gifts that displayed how well they knew us. We lived a lot of significant life together. However, we also experienced a lot of significant death together.
Our friend’s wife died of cancer only three months after our son, Ben. Those were very sad days. Thankfully, before she died, she and I had an opportunity to share a conversation about some of her fears of death and what awaited her in heaven. It was a sacred moment in time, and, yet one more significant gift I was given before we said our earthly goodbyes.
It was only a few short years later that the Lord had a new assignment for us, which meant even more significant goodbyes. Deep grief enveloped our departure. It’s no wonder a whirlwind of emotion overcame me at the sight of our friends.
Even so, we had no idea in that moment just how much of a miracle it was that this encounter was even taking place at all. After we picked our jaws up off the restaurant floor and mopped up our tears, we came to find out that our widowed friend had since also moved far away and "just happened" to be visiting his son and his family for the first time in three years. The next thing we knew, we were all sitting down together sharing the lunches we'd all purchased.
We hadn't seen these friends for over a decade but as we ate and talked and laughed and cried together, we were just as quickly and easily bonded as we were years before. Seeing them all again and rehearsing the myriad of memories that poured from our hearts as naturally as the sun rises was like a heavenly salve for my soul. And to think, another five minutes later and we would have missed it all.
While we can’t recreate moments in time, I’m thankful that God allows us to revisit them from time to time. I believe it was a small glimpse of what our heavenly reunion will be like when we gather together with all of God’s people around the banquet table at the feast of the Lamb. Talking, laughing, sharing, and worshipping our Lord and King together forever. What a glorious day that will be!
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Revelation 21:4, KJV).
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple, Dancing in the Rain, and A Ministry Survival Guide. She’s also a writer for Just Between Us Magazine, theStory, and Good Ground. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (three on earth, one in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, ON, Canada.