On the Side

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On the Side - August 2017


By Sharon Chatwell

By the time you read this, I will have attended my 40th year high school reunion. But, because of publication deadlines, I have to send this article in early. So, as I am writing this, I am actually just getting ready to go to the airport and head home.

It is all a bit unnerving. I find that I am mildly anxious, or perhaps mildly terrified; one or the other. After all, I haven’t seen most of these people in decades!

But I believe that as soon as I get there, I will feel better. I will be reunited with old friends and acquaintances, some of whom are waiting especially to see me.

Alright! Class of ’77! I can almost hear the Vintage Southern Rock and Early Era Disco playing now! Grab your polyester leisure suits and let’s go!

Reunion. It’s a sobering thought, because in order to be reunited with someone, it is necessary that at some point in the past you were separated from them. Being separated from friends and loved ones can be difficult and often painful.

Many of you have just moved recently. Most MS4s have become residents, while many residents have graduated and gone into practice. Let’s face it, summer is the season for moving according to the medical calendar.

You may be in new surroundings, in a new house, a new job, or even in a new city or state. It’s exciting but also hard, because everyone knows that with every move you end up leaving things behind, often including friends, family and perfectly good support systems.

I feel your pain. Twenty-six years ago, Rick and I moved to beautiful Lincoln, Nebraska; a place so far removed from our native Texas that my father had to actually look it up on a map to figure out exactly where Nebraska was.

For three years before that we lived in Rochester, Minnesota, while Rick was doing his fellowship at Mayo. After a few years in the frozen tundra (it was often warmer in our freezer than it was outside), any move in a southerly direction seemed positive.

While we were in Rochester, I was part of the now-famous Friday morning Bible study at Robin’s house, which eventually gave rise to Side By Side. It was a great experience and, after we moved to Nebraska, I missed my friends back North.

We knew absolutely no one in Nebraska. It was so bad that we used to joke that our best friend was the real estate agent who had sold us our house. I felt so alone.

"Why God? What were you thinking?” My prayers bounced back at me from the clear Nebraska sky, which was seemingly made of brass. Exasperated I prayed harder, “I know you didn’t bring me out into the wilderness to die!”

Then I started laughing; comparing Nebraska to the wilderness had made me laugh at myself. I felt better. Miraculously, a few hours later Robin called me. “How are you doing?” she asked. I told her. She learned all about the wilderness.

Two weeks later, my good friend Robin was standing in my house. She and her family had come to see us. And I just knew that everything was going to be okay.

I showed her the ugly curtains in our dining room. As we stood there staring at them, she asked a question that only a dear friend can ask. “Sharon, can we take these curtains down?... Right now?” “Yes, we can,” I said. And so, we did.

I was right. Things were going to be okay.

In the midst of my pain and loneliness, God sent a friend to stand at my side. And in doing so, He reminded me that He is always there, always listening, always able to provide just what I need. He sent me my friend, who knew me and loved me.

You may feel alone, but God is there with you. He has a plan to help you move forward. Hang in there! Remember, He hasn’t led you into the wilderness to die!

One day, there will be another joyous reunion. Those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior will be reunited with friends and loved ones who have gone on before us, and with Jesus Himself. It will be a wonderful day! A glorious day!

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, KJV).

The pain of these moments will be in the past. There will be eternal rejoicing in Christ, with those we love and from whom we never have to be separated again!

May we always look forward to that happy reunion! God bless you!

Sharon and her husband Rick still live in beautiful Lincoln, Nebraska, where they now have many friends and family members, including some they have imported from Texas! She wishes you many happy reunions in the future!

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