I spent the evening with a good friend and her kids the other night. It was time for bed and as little girls do, they were doing everything in their power to annoy one another. My friend, their mother, looked at them and sighed, "She's always going to be your sister."
My brother and I have talked about this before. When all is said and done, it is likely that we will know each other longer than we do anyone else. We will be the most longstanding relationships in each other's lives. No pressure.
As adults, we decided to work to cultivate our friendship within the bonds of family so that this wouldn't seem like a sentence. Now, we are good friends, as well as siblings. We talk about things that matter, we share in the sorrows and joys that make up our lives. Even though we are far away from each other geographically, we do life together.
It's one thing to talk about the relationships we have here on earth. It's quite another to think about forever, in Heaven. Like it or not, we will be sharing eternity with the Body of Christ.
Forever is a long time.
Lately I've been thinking to myself that same phrase my friend used when I encounter someone I clash with. She's going to be your sister forever. He's going to be your brother always.
I'm excited about Heaven. I'm excited about the communion with God, walking without growing weary, and the thought of how wonderful a place God has prepared for those who love Him will be.
But there will be people there too, and those people are the same people who share our churches and workplaces and streets. They are your best friends, mail deliverers and people who have cut in front of you on the freeway. I'm sure that many things about me will be better in Heaven, and I'm sure that much of my pettiness won't matter there, but I can't help thinking: these relationships count. I am taking them with me.
On the other hand, it's such an encouragement, when I meet someone who thrills me, or read some new words to think: she's going to be my sister forever.
And forever starts now.