In different stages of life, we may come across friends and relatives of various backgrounds and experiences. We may remember many of the ‘old’ memories about people and events such as the playmates in the neighborhood, classmates during schooling, colleagues in working, circle of interests group, and the networks of family and clans. All these had shallow or deep levels of relationship but also became part of our memory. Our minds may suddenly turn back to some scenes that were decades ago. We passed through peals of laughter and tears, successes and losses. The ‘I’ today consists of numerous personal tiny pieces; we may put them into the word ‘Relationship.’ Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Whatever ‘loves’ or ‘adversity’ is not exempted from the spectrum of relationships.
I am so blessed to have an opportunity to visit friends and relatives in the other country. I often felt it was the last time because many limitations and uncertainties existed. Covid-19 is still dominant among countries with different entry policies, which is frustrating. However, the desire to meet with friends and relatives after years is strong so that we may reflect on our life with surprises or heart-rending as time flies without any traces. Those ‘adventures’ were primarily out of our imagination. I would like to share with you some insights from them.
- My brother-in-law
He migrated from Hong Kong more than 15 years and is already 76. He lives alone in the government elderly housing estate, and thanks God, he manages to care for himself. My sister passed away last year, so I wanted to visit him when the Covid impact lesser. I tried to encourage him and learn more about his update, especially since he had lost his loved ones. They had been married for 50 years, and it was not easy to face the loss. Honestly, I can’t help him much as a brother-in-law, but I wanted to accompany him for that time in physical, mental, and spiritual realms. I am thankful that I learned solitary living and that living ‘Alone’ is not equivalent to ‘Loneliness’ or revealed as helplessness. When I became more ‘senior’ – older, I needed to build up vital self-discipline such as dieting, rest, and exercise before it was too late and pay a heavy price (finance and anxiety) later. It is not new, but I need to learn from others about their daily lives. Not only would I let off without struggling, but also I need to persist in trying without giving up. On the other hand, the assurance of ‘Heavenly kingdom and Eternal life’ is the hope and strength to make every day count. God never forsakes us even though our outer body will deteriorate gradually, but our inner being becomes newer every day.
- An old classmate of more than four decades
It is a beautiful opportunity to meet a long-time-no-see classmate. He needed to drive for an hour to my place for a 2-hour chat over supper time. We mutually shared about our family and working life for all these years. He is now still working as a frontier staff in the service industry. He told me he slept in the car overnight to recoup until he could drive home. We all have different encounters which are unique and are not for granted. No matter where we are or whatever happens, there is nothing new under the sun, but only we can taste them. In the old days, we may be handsome or rough looking, but it became ‘no longer important’ after the baptism of callous passes over time. We treasured the experience and testing of life in a 2-hour supper time. What a fantastic moment!
- The threat of the epidemic situation
A former just retired colleague migrated to a country close to the area of a missionary couple I visited. Hence I rescheduled the time to visit his home. He told me a day or two ahead that he and his wife were both infected with Covid 19 but soon recovered. However, his son was also infected and needed to quarantine in his room. We were worried about canceling the visit. After prayers and second thoughts, I decided to visit them as scheduled ( I had received three jabs in Hong Kong, but the risk was still high). They were so nervous and cautious when I met them at the airport. They were wearing masks, opening the car windows, and spraying sanitizer to ensure all precautions for infection. While we had supper at home, we needed to stay at different corners of the house, and his son ate in his room. The scene was like a battlefield to fight against the invisible enemy. Thank God the whole journey was at home or outdoors; activities were safe without infection. The timing was also ‘perfect’ because it would be a disaster if I had visited them earlier, or my schedule would be very tight if I had arrived later. God’s timing is the best that people can’t control, and it’s a great learning lesson of faith to trust in God’s protection.
I have shared some connections with friends and relatives, a continuance of ‘relationship.’ However, it also inspired me to have a relationship with God over the decades. We become God’s children and a member of the heavenly family. Would I value the special relationship that is more invaluable than our earthly connection? God meticulously cares for and prunes our life. I praise His grace for the ups & downs of worldly living.
Moreover, “With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” as compared with our life as a tiny dust, our adventure is so trivial like Job ‘seeing’ God no longer by perception but by knowing his constraints. Our strength goes with the days by relying on the Spirit of God to face the ever-changing days. ‘Relationship’ and ‘ Faith’ are inseparable. Future challenges may not be colossal hardships instead of ordinary daily decisions. All need ‘faith’ to be the anchor; not only depend on our experience, resources, and human network to make it work.
Walking with God, but the narrow road filled with challenges of the world, the temptation of Satan, and the agitation of lust. These will trap us to fall, but God’s unfailing love is better than life to sustain us in His will, no matter how long or short our days. So, May the opportunities granted to connect with others multiply and the relationship with God be treasured.