“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV).
This past weekend I returned to my hometown of Ellsworth, Kansas for its 150th birthday celebration. There was a parade, games for the kids, music, a rodeo, and so much more. But the highlight of my weekend was getting to take part in an informal 25-year class reunion – shout out here to Ellsworth High Class of ’92!
I must admit that I was a little nervous to meet up with my former classmates, many of whom I hadn’t seen in twenty years or more. I was never the most popular kid in school and now I was less fit with less hair and even less confidence. But, as I approached the place where my classmates were meeting, they began to cheer and welcomed me with handshakes and open arms. We talked at length about our experiences, our kids, our joys, and, within just a few minutes of arriving, I felt like I had never left this group of classmates, this group of friends.
Later, I thought about the kindness of my classmates and the joy we shared in being together once again. I wondered what bond had held us together after all the years of being apart. Finally, I figured it out – we had experienced life together. Through all the joys and pain of childhood and adolescence, the confusion of being a teenager, and the responsibilities of being a young adult, we had stood beside one another. Together, we had faced the emotions of first crushes and break-ups, math tests and sporting events, our first days of school and the final months of our senior year. We had faced all of this together, and, in this way, we could relate to one another.
My experience this past weekend reminded me of the blessings of friendship and how God puts people in each of our lives for a purpose. It also reminded me that God himself, in Jesus, chose to take on flesh and become one of us, to experience life with us and for us. In this way, he could relate to us. He lived a life that was perfect, knowing that we would struggle with the messy things of life, and finally, he died for us, because he loved us that much. Someday soon, we will experience a reunion of sorts with him, in Heaven, and there will be cheering and open arms.
Class of ’92, I can’t wait to see each of you again! Thanks for reminding me of my many blessings.