One of the very first blessings to manifest at the Willow Creek Church Worship Arts Conference I attended a couple of weeks ago occurred in the first general meeting session that took place in the main auditorium. All attendees were invited to stand up and meet-and-greet other people around us. There were roughly 5000 people in the auditorium, from all over the globe.
Sitting to my immediate right was a worship pastor from Waxahachie, Texas. It turns out that he and I know people in common, including one of the best friends I've ever had, Christopher Cole. Chris, his wife Lysette, and their family also live in Waxahachie where he runs a couple of successful businesses, as well as writes and records music and leads worship in their church from time to time.
While I was talking to this guy, I become aware that Nancy is tugging urgently on my arm. I turn around and find that she is talking to a woman in the row behind us who happens to be Amy Riley, a good friend from some 10 years ago when we lived in Texas. She, her husband Ricky, and their family have been living in Austin, Minnesota for a number of years now and she is a volunteer worship leader at their church. We really liked them. Interestingly, barely a month before, Nancy and I had been remembering them, discussing an especially powerful ministry story that had occurred around the Riley's at the time we knew them in Texas. It was really encouraging catching up on their lives and seeing that they were doing well.
What are the odds? It is a small world, after all.
For me, one of the most arresting truths about eternal life is that, from 10 years ago to now, and through forever, there will never be a time when we don't know Amy and Ricky. They will never be strangers to us even though, and it is likely, we may never see them again in this life. Believers in Jesus Christ ultimately spend eternity together, regardless of what temporary separations occur here on earth. It is a mysterious and remarkable feature of life in Heaven that we will have the freedom to know and enjoy the rest of God's children, all of the other inhabitants of His Kingdom, who come in droves, and yet one at a time, from the annals of history from Adam until the end.