November 18, 2013
Okay, so yesterday was one of “those” days. It was a day that goes on the list of “days that changed my life” or “days that I will never forget.” We all have them. Days when someone dies, or someone is born; days when we hear good news or really bad news; days when we begin or finish an important job or task; days when we graduate from someplace; days when a president is killed; days when our country is attacked… you know what I mean… days when “things” change. I’m sure you are wondering, “Oh my goodness… what dreadful thing happened to the Littles yesterday?!” I didn’t say it was “dreadful”… only life changing. And it may not sound as gripping when I write it so don’t accuse me of being overly dramatic… but… my youngest daughter Alissa moved to Nebraska yesterday. I know right… Nebraska!?!? A friend of mine said, “Do you know what the State tree of Nebraska is? The telephone pole.”
Many of you have been through this sort of thing… maybe numerous times… so this could just be old news… and frankly, this is not the first time we have had one of our children move away from Pittsburgh. Ellen and I have actually been empty nesters before. But this is the first time one of them has moved and it is possible they might never live in the Pittsburgh area again. (I can’t believe how hard it was to write that last sentence.) That’s why it was one of “those days.”
Don’t get me wrong, we are excited for Alissa and are fully supportive of her in this move. And this presents the possibility of serving God in a whole new place and of meeting all sorts of new people. I’m told there are even Christians in Nebraska! I drove through there a few years ago… I couldn’t even swear that there are any people but I guess there are. J Lots of corn I know that!
Our goodbyes yesterday were not the “weep fest” you might imagine. Ellen and I were literally leaving the house to go to a concert while Alissa was coming home from someplace to make a few last preparations before departing. It was a very rushed, “Bye… drive safely… see ya” moment. Not much for a family that prides itself in being extremely close. Even as I write this she has not yet arrived in Nebraska… she is making a two day trip out of it.
Well, enough of that. I want to make a ridiculously large theological jump. One that has so little to do with my “day” yesterday that I’m afraid you will think I’m just plain… well… goofy. (hmmm, maybe you already think that?!?!?)
The reality of the Trinity is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith. Maybe it is THE mystery of the faith? How is it that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit in one Being and yet each “Person” somehow functions separately from the others? For example if Jesus is God… then who was He praying to while in His earthly body? Yeah right… I don’t get it either.
But imagine for a moment the “time” in history… when God the Father had to say goodbye to God the Son? Knowing full well that the Son was giving up something precious in order to put Himself into a position to SUFFER AND DIE!!! I know, I know… I’m sure there was not a “conversation” like we would think. But what happened? And what sort of grief did the Father suffer? Not to mention the Son?!
Do you know the verses from Philippians 2? They are some of the most written about passages in all of the Bible.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
These verses, which represent a hymn from the first century that was either written or quoted by Paul, are the closest thing we have to describing what happened when Jesus left the Father. The word “nothing” is sometimes translated “emptied Himself.” Emptied Himself of what? Well that’s the question isn’t it? What exactly did Jesus “leave behind” in order to take on humanity? There are literally volumes written to grapple with that question. Rather than try to deal with all the possibilities which are voluminous, can we just agree that a dreadfully difficult and painful decision was made… one that somehow altered the Person of Jesus (and separated Him from the Father in some way) so that he could accomplish the task which He voluntarily took upon Himself?
Well, truth be told… I can’t possibly imagine what those last moments were like. I can only say this: I am eternally grateful that those moments happened! That at a time and place in history (or not a time and place) the Son of God chose to separate from the Father, humble Himself and die… for me!
Goodbyes are often painful, and unwanted… but sometimes GREAT things come from them. I’m going to try to keep that in mind.