A “Welcome Home” Hug
© 1989 Brad Sargent
First published in Time Out! A Men’s Devotional (Evergreen Publications).
… God Himself will be with them and shall wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death shall be no longer, nor mourning, nor crying, nor any further pain, because the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:3-4, Revised Berkeley Version
I knew little more about Dave than two crucial facts, told to me by Charlie, a mutual friend: Dave’s wife of several years drowned in a river-rafting accident 10 weeks earlier, and Dave committed his life to Christ that same day.
I dialed nervously. The phone at the other end started ringing. I can’t believe I’m doing this, Lord! If he’s not there by six rings, I’m hanging u–
“Hi. Is this Dave?”
“Well, Dave, you don’t know me, but my name’s Brad …”
Now, I’m as fidgety about dealing with death as the next person, but somehow I knew God wanted me to reach out to Dave. So, I phoned and invited him over for coffee. Not until his third visit did Dave share the traumatic details of Nan’s drowning. Numbed, all I could do was listen, something Dave later told me few others had been willing to do.
God continued to tie our lives together through many conversations, shared meals, hymn sings, garnet digs, helping each other pack and move. All this time I watched and listened and prayed for healing for Dave.
Gradually, God replaced grief with wholeness. Two years after Nan’s death, Dave stopped wearing his wedding band. Two more years and he finally showed me photographs of her. Nearly two years later, Dave was dating Kerri, a wonderful woman from his home fellowship group. Dave phoned me a few months later – asking if I would be best man at their wedding!
On December 31st we stood side by side in our tuxedos. Because of our history as friends, the entire ceremony triggered deep emotions for me. Holding back the tears proved difficult. Finally the wedding party recessed down the aisle. I looked Dave in the eyes, smiled despite the lump in my throat, and hugged him while our tears flowed freely. That hug was my way of telling him, “You’ve been restored, Dave! Welcome home, buddy!”
Jesus watches and listens and prays for us as we go through various sufferings. What a comfort – we can tell the Great Physician all the things no one else cares to hear and He dispenses the healing balm we need. And I envision when the time comes to pass into His presence, He will reach out, clasp us close to Himself, and gently whisper, “My child, you’ve passed the test! Welcome home!”
Thank You, Lord Jesus, You remain with me through my trials on earth and are there in person to welcome me home to heaven. Help me remember that suffering is temporary, but joy is eternal. Amen.