To Go and To Stay

I tried to write about this exact subject last October. I shared my draft, rather awkwardly, to my best friend and told her how I couldn’t seem to find a redemptive slant just yet. Her reply brought me to tears in the middle of my morning commute, “Maybe we will find it together.”

My best friend shared me earlier this evening some details of her wedding day next year. While I am excited to see her get married in less than a month’s time, I couldn’t help but fast forward to seven months from now. When she, together with her to-be husband and their team, would go on a short-term missions trip to one of our churches in Central America.

Prior to this, I had another short conversation with a friend who is thinking of studying masters abroad. And, of course, my mind couldn’t stay put as I thought of all my dear friends who have gone on to different church locations and countries in order to pursue God’s calling in their lives.

There is sadness in my heart whenever my thoughts move toward this route. For the longest time, I couldn’t quite place what specifically makes it so painful to me… up until recently.

I hate change. I just hate it. It makes me anxious just thinking of having to build relationships again with new people (who here can relate?). It makes me frustrated when I think about all the friends I can no longer just share meals with on the go, because they will be based in another time zone months from now.

But what hurts isn’t the thought that this means goodbye, but rather the thought of being apart. And who knows, if we will be the same, should we ever reunite again? With the miles and new memories and new faces now put between us. My abandonment issues don’t help at all either.

But tonight, as I lay down to sleep, I remembered these wise words mentioned by a pastor at one of our staff meetings:

“God’s will is to disperse us for His Kingdom expansion. The goal is Kingdom expansion. The goal is not to stay together.”

Reflecting on these words, I can’t help but think of just how selfish I am for wanting all my friends to remain in one place just so we could stay together.

Because as much as I—yes, I can’t stress this enough—hate the thought of being apart, it would be naive of anyone, especially any believer of Jesus, to not believe in the necessary see-you-later’s (or possibly goodbye’s) when it comes to building God’s Kingdom. No less than Jesus Himself was very much acquainted with the thought of being together with his friends for a time before parting with them for His Kingdom.

Next week will be a new year. The holidays will finally come to an end. You will probably have relatives and friends who will be going back to where they really live by then. Or perhaps you will be the one leaving in this scenario.

And while I am sure that there will be days, whether in the near or far future, when I just wish I could have all my friends altogether in one place at one point in time; I know that this reality may never come to be, at least in this lifetime.

The Kingdom of God is much too valuable for all those who believe to stay together. There is work to be done in many parts of the world, as much as there is to be done in many parts of the Philippines and in the online space.

But if there’s one thought that I am holding onto that brings me hope, one thought that comforts me on days when I just hate being apart—it is the thought of that one day, in His Kingdom, we will all have that grand reunion when we face our Beloved King.

A dear friend of mine posted a status last January 2018:

“Faith causes us to go and step out of the boat. And sometimes, faith causes us to simply stay.”

So whether you find yourself going or staying, and whether or not we will see each other sometime soon, I look forward to the day we are all united—with each other and with our King.

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