Last Monday afternoon, my wife and I took our daughter to the airport and sent her off to begin her final year of college. Our eyes were misty and our hearts were heavy realizing that her final summer at home with us was now 0ver and next spring she would be done with college and a married woman starting a life and family of her own. The thoughts weighed heavily on me as I sat on her bed in her room early Tuesday morning missing her. I was (and still am) experiencing separation anxiety. I become very attached to people, places and routines and it is very uncomfortable for me to be separated from them. Life is full of change, however, and we must accept those changes, especially when they are for the better.
I think one of the things I like most about being a Christian is the comfort there is in its permanence. I am not saying that it is impossible for one to lose his salvation, for if the Bible teaches anything, it teaches that one may willfully turn away from the Lord and reject Him (Gal. 1:6-7, 5:4, Heb. 10:26, 12:15). Such does not have to be the case. We can, if we faithfully cling to the Lord, be “once saved, always saved” (2 Peter 1:10, 1 Jno. 1:7-9, 5:10-13). We can have a full and unwavering assurance that we will never be separated from the love of God (Rom. 8:35, 38-39). To me, one who is prone to anxiety at separations, knowing that there is nothing that can separate me from God’s love (other than my willful rejection of it) is very comforting.
The presence of the Lord in our lives, here and now, is an indisputable reality that can bear positive fruit in our lives. Consider Paul’s words to the brethren at Philippi. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phl 4:4-7 NKJV )
Within this text are stated many wonderful blessings that are available to every Christian. All of those blessings are predicated upon the fact The Lord is at hand (v.5). That is, the Lord is near to us. We are assured of joy, answered prayer and peace that surpasses understanding. These things are abundantly available to all Christians who trust in the nearness of Jesus.
Paul says rejoice in the Lord! In what are we to rejoice? The fact we are in Christ is cause for rejoicing. In Christ we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). In Christ we are justified freely by God’s grace (Rom. 3:24). There is no condemnation to those who walk after the Spirit in Christ (Rom. 8:1). In Christ we are sanctified, set apart for holy service to the Lord (1 Cor. 1:2). In Christ we are the children of God (Gal. 3:26-27). These are only a few of the wonderful spiritual blessings we have in Christ. These and many more are cause for daily rejoicing.
Because of the nearness of Christ I can show gentleness in my interactions with others and be free from anxiety. Paul says that Christ’s nearness brings me such peace that there is no need for anxiety. Notice that we are to let our requests be made known to God and His peace will guard our hearts and minds. From what will the peace of God guard my heart and mind? His peace will guard against the anxiety that comes from uncertainty. We can be so certain of the presence of Christ that as soon as our request is made we have the peace that comes from the assurance that God hears and will answer our prayers. This peace enables and empowers me to live a life of gentleness. I am able to confidently rise above the anxieties of this life and live confidently, gently and quietly.
One of the greatest blessings of heaven is there will be no more separations. No more “leavin’ on a jetplane” goodbyes, no more saying farewell to friends and family, no more funerals. We’ll all be together with the Lord. This is the confident hope of all who are in Christ.