But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face….1 Thessalonians 2:17
Our First Meeting
It was 1984 and we were all beginning our undergraduate work for the pastoral ministry.
That’s how we met, being in the same program at the same college. But we had our differences!
They were Green Bay Packer fans. I was a Chicago Bears fan.
The four of them grew up in Iowa. I grew up in Illinois.
I was a year older than the other four.
Still, we were all planning on being pastors. We also loved to laugh. And we were pretty good singers.
So we started signing together. We found we could harmonize almost as well as we could make each other laugh.
And we enjoyed it! So our friendship began. And it became so much more! We had just a couple of things in common. Love of singing. Love of laughter. Love of Jesus.
And that made us more than friends. It made us brothers. It made a bond among us that we cannot imagine ever breaking.
Seminary & Weddings
I graduated from college in 1987. They would graduate in 1988. I went on ahead of them to seminary and they joined me a year later. Three of us would work together at a local radio station while we continued our pastoral ministry studies.
One by one, each of us married the woman of our dreams. Our wives also became close friends.
And we still sang together. A lot. Banquets, youth retreats, church services, Christmas programs, and just because we really, really liked to sing together!
We even were able to record a dozen or so songs in a professional recording studio.
When possible, we each sang at our weddings.
But then came graduation and ordination.
Occasional Get-Togethers Over 26 Years
Over the next 26 years, some of us got together when we could. But we were scattered across the country serving in our calling as pastors.
In a sense, we knew what St. Paul felt being “torn away” from his brothers and sisters in Thessalonica. Physically separated but always together in the heart.
The five of us would always be close in our hearts. When our children started to arrive and our families grew, we laughed and prayed together – even over long distances. We also had the occasional crying of heartache. But even this only served to deepen our relationship.
Through the years we tried but were never able to organize a time when all five of us could get together. That is, until 2018, some 25 years since the last time we were all together.
We organized a reunion. We spent about four months finding a date that worked for all of us. It just so happened to be Labor Day weekend when my wife and I were going to celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary.
We all sang at my wedding – both the ceremony and the reception after.
The five of us all got together, with three of the wives able to also join in the festivities.
And so we sang and laughed together for the first time in 25 years.
We decided we would try to have a reunion every year. Within a month, it was set up! The next Labor Day weekend we would all travel to Washington D.C. (where one of us serves as a pastor).
My wife and I decided that we would make this reunion an added special event – a family road trip! All three of our sons would drive with us to Virginia. At ages 23, 20, and 19, my wife and I knew this would probably be the last family-of-five road-trip we would take.
We knew it wouldn’t be easy. A twelve-hour drive – broken down into two days. Four adult men and one beautiful lady in a huge SUV – but it still was cramped!
Sometimes tempers were short, sleep was fleeting, but it was still a trip we would never forget!
Saying Goodbye … Or Is It, “See You Soon!”?
Again, the five pastors sang and laughed together. This time all five of the lovely and gracious wives were able to join us, as well as six of the twelve sons and daughters.
At the end of the weekend, we all had to say goodbye yet again. After so much laughter and joy, a sense of melancholy invaded my heart.
But then I was reminded that we really weren’t saying, “goodbye” but instead, “see you soon!”
We made plans to hold yet another reunion the following year in Greenville, Wisconsin. Within a year, we plan on all being together again.
Love Never Says Goodbye Forever
This reminded me that because of the love of God, we never really have to say goodbye, at least not forever.
Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we will live in paradise forever. A place where there will be no more death, no more heartache, and no more goodbyes.
But there will be plenty of singing and laughing, I’m sure. And I know five guys who know how to do that!
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of friends. Thank you for the love of Jesus who makes friends so much more. Thank you for the gift of forever singing and forever laughing. Thank you for no more goodbyes, just “see you soons.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.
© 2019 True Men Ministries
You can help us in our re-vamping and re-building of the website, the podcast, and the twice-weekly devotional. Make a contribution to True Men Ministries by clicking here.
You can buy a paperback or Kindle version of the In My Father’s Footsteps devotions. There are also Christmas devotions that will be republished for Christmas 2019!