Donna and I are separated right now.

No, we're not disgusted with each other. We're not angry or getting a divorce. In fact, we miss each other terribly. We're in one of those transitions from one city to another where I had to move two months before she could. Our world is a bit of a mess — some stuff is in storage, some in an apartment, some with our daughter at college, some with me where I'm staying, and some in my folks garage. Yep, we're pretty scattered ... and lonesome.

During this time of separation, I've often thought about the old addage, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." Want my opinion? "Absence stinks!" I don't know how you folks who do it frequently survive it! God bless you — and that's not a throw away phrase, it's a prayer for you. Yuk, this absence deal is terrible.

Yes, absence does make reunion sweeter. Absence makes time together more intense. Absence reminds you of all the little things the other does for you — it also makes all those big things they do for you inescapable. Absence makes you lonely and your heart hurt. Absence runs up your phone bill. Absence stresses you out. Absence helps you catch up on your reading. Absence makes the bed seem awfully big and empty. Absence ...

All this absence from Donna has also made me think about a different kind of absence: Jesus' absence. Now before anyone goes off on me about Jesus being real in our daily lives, let explain.

  • While I can pray to and through Jesus, sometimes I ache just to see him face to face.
  • While I can read about him and learn more about him in the Scriptures, it's not "the next best thing to being there!"
  • While I believe he is here in the middle of my life leading, guiding, challenging, and blessing me, I still miss feeling his physical touch.

I can't wait for reunion ...

  • ... for building our home in a new place
  • ... for sharing quiet moments where nothing has to happen more than simply enjoying each other's presence
  • ... for being together without the strain of distance
  • I live for the day that there are no partings, separations, and distances to keep us apart.
  • ... for speaking face to face and delighting in our shared love.

Yes, Donna, I miss you terribly even when I'm doing fun things or with other people or busy with ministry ... I'm looking forward to our absence ending soon and being together for as long as God gives us breath!

And yes, Jesus, I miss you.

I live for the day that there are no partings, separations, and distances to keep us apart. Until that day, I will focus on anticipation rather than absence.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Soon! Marantha! (1 Corinthians 16:22)