Many years ago an anonymous writer penned a phrase in the first line of a poem which read, “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder.” In 1602, another writer unearthed the quote and presented it to the adoring public once again in his own created work. Finally, in 1844, a man by the name of Thomas Haynes Bayly worked the phrase into his poetic endeavor entitled, “Isle of Beauty.” Regardless of who-wrote-what & when…it is safe to say the phrase caught on and has become an endearing sentiment for most of the humans scattered around the globe. It is one of those little phrases that sounds so familiar to us, one would almost think Adam and Eve used it in the garden back in the day.
I would have to guess that, for the most part, the hallowed expression is used by sweethearts and lovie-dovies who have been separated by time and distance due to circumstances beyond their control. In many ways, it is like saying, “I can’t wait to see you again” or “it hurts so much when we are not together.” Ultimately, the romantic author is saying he or she is counting down the seconds until they are reunited again and that being apart has made him/her miss their loved one even more. Kinda gross, isn’t it? 🙂
Maybe the ultimate reason the expression has survived the passing of time is simply because the sentiment is absolutely true. The sentence connects with us on a million different levels. We all have loved ones in our lives. Whether it is a spouse, child, sibling, parent, or friend…being apart for any length of time makes us anxious to see that special person or special group of people again. The little things they say or do…the little annoying things that drive you up a wall…even those things can be missed when the heart is “growing fonder.” And when we are granted the blessings of a long-awaited reunion, we really can identify and relate to the familiar quote of the heart and its “fondering.”
If the above statements are true then just about all of us have hearts that are in the process of growing fonder. COVID-19 has done a splendid job of separating us from family, friends, and activities with the success only a pandemic could accomplish. We have been absent like crazy in a hundred different ways. We have been yanked away from people, stuff, and things. Our “normal” almost seems like a dream since we’ve been locked up in our homes. Church members are missing church services. A few kids even missed school (hard to imagine that…but that’s what I’ve heard). Why we even miss eating out or having a cup of coffee with a friend. The reality is we really miss those things and some very dear people.
I would be willing to bet that even those who never attended church consistently are sitting on “GO” to head back. The landscape and our perspective has changed drastically. Prior to the coronavirus, church services were merely routine for some and options for many. One might go this Sunday…might not…just depends on how he or she is feeling or if anything better comes along. Oftentimes, these folks will not make the official decision until Sunday morning. Then someone from the Governor’s office says you cannot go…our righteous indignation kicks in and we swear on every Bible we own that we were gonna go the very week Andy said we could not. Now we feel violated…as our rights to worship have been stripped away…and something must be done.
Every pastor I know has heard similar stories in recent weeks. Maybe the coronavirus has somehow managed to give us a cold hard look at our heart’s center…and how we operate. We have to remember, we humans are a funny bunch…especially us Christian folk. We are often arrogant enough to ignore verses like James 1:19 which says, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” In fact, we have all twisted that verse a full 180 degrees, heading full steam in the opposite direction as many are quick to speak, slow to listen, and staying angry over the silliest of things. Maybe you are starting to miss the church family…even those one or two you don’t seem to gel with all that much. Maybe the preacher going a few minutes “over” isn’t as bad as you once thought it was (not that I would ever dream some of you might think that way…hahahaha!) And maybe you didn’t care for the music the church was playing right before the coronavirus interjected itself into all of our lives…but now you are missing even that. As our hearts have grown “fonder,” we have been able to take a look around and process how we tick. Our idols have been exposed. Our selfishness and pride have been laid bare. Perhaps a rather large stack of thank you(s) are due to some very key people in your life. Coupled with that, maybe a few I’m Sorry(s) have been sitting around boxed up in your heart…maybe it’s time to unpack them.
In closing, it is true that absence is making our hearts grow fonder as we are missing our worship services and our brothers and sisters in Christ. But it is also true that absence has been at work in other areas in our lives. Four months ago, or so, we were all too busy to get anything of any real value done. That excuse now has a hole in it. Though we remain “busy”…we all have a tad more time than we once did. Maybe we should focus on that and be thankful. May God help us to use the time to the uttermost in our service to Him. Think outside the box…do something for Him…and for His glory. Now is the time to do it…after all, your heart is “fonder.” 🙂
Thanks again guys! Appreciate you taking the time!