I haven’t seen my middle brother for seven years now. The last time we saw each other was during my last trip to Romania, then the second baby came, and travel got a lot more complicated. We talk from time to time, mostly about the kids, his going off to college, mine still in kindergarten and elementary school, but it’s not like it was when we were young and spent most days together.
We didn’t have a choice. Seven of us lived in a two-bedroom apartment, and although some who refuse to acknowledge they are poor would call it cozy, it was a tight fit. At one point, we even had an older Romanian couple living with us for almost a year because they were poor too and couldn’t afford a place of their own. The walls were thin, the rooms were small, and there was one bathroom with a chipped tub for everyone to share, but we were together, had each other, and made it work somehow.
My mom and grandma were wizards in the kitchen, and even if they had two onions, one potato, and some chicken feet and gizzards, they’d make a meal that, although not quite fit for a king, would keep us fed. It was mandatory that whoever came to visit, and by the mid-90s, there was always someone, they’d sit down for a meal. Given the way my mom and grandma acted, you would think it was the greatest shame for someone to grace your doorstep and not leave feeling as though they were a turkey a week out from Thanksgiving.
The older I get, the more I remember people who have come and gone in my life. Some fondly, some not so much, but memories have a way of blurring, and you have a hard time trying to pinpoint why you grew apart. Sometimes they moved away; other times, it was me who did the moving. Further on, life just got too busy, and something had to give. You miss people at first and notice their absence, but as with all things, time dulls the pain, and life moves ever onward.
Perhaps growing apart is a natural consequence of shifting priorities. Time spent with friends is replaced with courting, chess and coffee with working a few hours of overtime, and guy trips with making your mortgage payment. Whatever the reason, unless you were born in a small town and lived there all your life, surrounded by the same neighbors, going to the same diner, and attending the same church, few people in life have permanence.
I’m not knocking the simple life. The Amish seem to be doing just fine, and they don’t wander far, especially given their preferred mode of transportation, but the world’s gotten smaller and more expansive all at once, and at some point, we’ll come to realize that Facebook friends aren’t real friends, because real friends wouldn’t try to sell you a magic peeler for twenty bucks that breaks after the third carrot.
The promise of His presence throughout one’s life resonates so profoundly, largely due to the impermanence of those around us. Other than sappy love ballads insisting that they’ll be there waiting for you, people’s commitment is situational. Don’t believe me? Look at the current divorce rates in the West, then make a counterargument. Thankfully God is not a man that He should lie, so when He promises to be there, to carry you throughout your existence, from birth to old age, He will make good on His promise.
Isaiah 46:3-4, “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb: even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.”
From the cradle to the grave, God sees you with the same eyes. He sees you through the prism of love and affection, and though you might age, wrinkle, go gray, or grow feeble, His love for you does not lessen. You are not a variable commodity to Him; you don’t decrease in value the older you get. You are a constant, and His love for you is also constant.
You may look in the mirror and notice the laugh lines, the wrinkles, the receding hairline, the paunch, the age spots, but when He looks at you, He sees none of those things. God sees you through eyes of love that do not highlight and underscore your imperfections. He will never leave you nor forsake you for the baseless reasons people do. It is man that breaks faith with God, not God, who breaks faith with man. We initiate the separation, not Him.
At times it’s intimidating letting God in, surrendering to His will, and allowing the fire of His love to burn out the dross because, for the most part, modern-day believers have learned to wear masks and imitate righteousness rather than be righteous. God sees the you hidden behind the pretense, bravado, scars, pain, failures, defeats, and shortcomings. He sees you as you are, not as you pretend to be, and He still loves you. For some, that is so earth-shattering that they don’t know what to do with it. For others, it’s the peace they’ve always dreamed of but never knew how to obtain.
When you need comfort, He is your comforter. When you need shelter from the storm, He is your refuge. When you cannot stand on your own, He promises to car; it’s. This is not a limited-time offer, it’s not something that expires or is no longer valid after an introductory period. His promises remain valid from generation to generation, and those who have stood on His promises have not been ashamed.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.