Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him,These men were so open with their emotions!
First, it must be said that kissing in their culture was not always what it is in ours; there was the romantic aspect of a kiss, but you can a parallel to their culture today in many Spanish speaking cultures, or what might more readily come to mind for others would be France, where one might exchange a kiss in greeting.
However, commonly in our culture would be the image that men are strong.
Men stand strong.
Men do not falter.
Men do not show weakness.
In other words. . . "Grown men don't cry."
And this is in part a piece of the nature God has given man. God did not make man of any greater importance than woman, and he didn't make woman of any greater importance than man.
However, he did make us differently, and in that difference it is generally much easier for a woman to pour forth her emotions than it is for a man. Here we see these elders of the church Paul and his group of Christ followers were used to plant by God falling and weeping for the misfortune awaiting Paul and that this will be their last time seeing him on earth.
They know they'll see him in heaven, but no matter how heaven minded a person is that doesn't change the fact that (a) if you care for a person you are not glad to hear of time they have or will spend in chains and (b) despite knowing there will be plenty of time to see them in the long run, our perspectives are not yet in that of the long run.
When you are 7 years old a year of school seems like FOREVER, and the idea of going all the way through to high school and on to college is a greater length of time than your brain can fathom.
When you have grown up and are now 27 years old you look back and think how funny it is a single year had once felt so long, and could very well be making and changing financial plans for the next three to ten years (and beyond.)
When you've grown old and have reached the age of 77 it doesn't really matter what you do with your day, you're just suddenly surprised to find another year has gone by and you're already 78 and wondering when God's finally gonna call you up to see all the people you've loved but have gone on before yourself. (Though should the Lord tarry and he has me live that long, it's my desire to not live dwelling on that with an empty life but even with a busted leg sitting in a rocking chair all day praising God and glorifying him in whatever way I can, through prayer or study or whatever ministry the Lord give me from that rocking chair, whether it be my grandchildren or that I continue studying and sharing through this very blog.)
To break off of this rabbit trail however, I look at the way these men cried for their dear friend and mentor. They did not hold anything back because there was no point in holding anything back.
They did not want to hold anything back.
The pastor's and staff here at Potter's Field have shared with us how difficult it was to send us off. They poured into us for three straight months as children running towards God; running with us and holding us up in our struggles and studies, helping us to not stumble. . . and we left.
We were gone, and they were alone. They have been very honest so that we can understand for our own futures in ministry and discipleship that when the next group of interns came there was the temptation to not give these new students their all, pouring into them everything they have, because it would lesson the pain when they left.
It would leave just that much smaller a hole from their leaving.
But they also knew that if they didn't pour in everything, if they didn't give this second batch of students their all, it might reduce the pain of leaving, but it would also reduce the joy of their company and presence. If they made it so that there would be no pain in separation, they would be removing all the joy of their company.
I don't want to separate myself from everyone, intentionally or accidentally, and I want our relationship to be one in which everything, both our joys and our fears, can be shared. It is my natural reaction to not share my troubles because I see others complain and don't want to be like that, and because the Lord promises to be our comfort and our peace and I want to depend on him in that. However, we have been made brothers and sisters, one body in Christ, and the Lord does at time give us the comfort he promises through them.
There is a growth and strengthening of relationships that occurs when sharing our weaknesses and struggles and together seeking the support and guidance, comfort and joy and peace of God in prayer.
I have concerns about this season of my life coming to a close and a new season of life beginning, this time in our own backyard. Probably more, in fact, it is most definite that more concerns are plaguing me about returning home then there were about going leaving it, and I am seeking the Lord for them and laying them at his cross. However, I need to recognize that it is not a weakness of faith to seek council from my mature brothers and sisters or support from those who will be continuing on from this work and returning home with me, who can be a pillar of support and source of accountability in those hard times that, save the Lord's working of quite a few miracles in my life and the lives of others, are sure to follow this time I have spent away.
One of the more tangible concerns would be finances and my need to finish paying off those debts I owe from this mission trip, and the worry of what type of a hold paying off that debt will have over my life until it has been finished, how it might limit my involvement in the church or the time I have to devote towards personal projects the Lord might be leading towards.
Written April 11, 2012
Break my heart for what breaks yours
I raise my hands with open palms to you
Raising up, my life and plans
That you can take it and do what you will
Without my hands holding on
Releasing it all to you.