What Does it Mean to be Close?

“Oh mom,” my college aged daughter said, and could it be I heard a tiny bit of impatience in her voice? “Half the kids I know in college live in the same town as their parents and they aren’t as close as we are living across the ocean from each other.”

My whining stopped.

As missionaries, we often lived lives separated by distance. Big long across the globe distances. Our children knew how to maneuver airports and luggage on their own. They were familiar with new situations and old ones that changed without warning. And new languages with their indecipherable sounds just made things more interesting. Their lines crossed boundaries, splashed across the map and roosted, still somehow connected with each other.

So, as a daughter, Mom and now Grandma often separated by miles, oceans and years from all the pieces of my heart, I gotta admit, sometimes the whining of Covid-19 separations (are you telling me your grandkids live 15 minutes down the road?) make me want to say with the same tone as my once college-aged daughter, “Oh, get a grip.”

The disciple Thomas, remembered for doubting, had a real problem with the devastating separation from his Master. He’d seen Jesus die on the cross. His emotions must have been a tsunami of grief, raw and overwhelming.

The latest development drove tempestuous waves through his very being. The other ten disciples claimed they’d seen Jesus. They said Jesus rose from the dead and that He had appeared to them. But, their exuberance did not sway Thomas.

“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe,” he declared. John 20:24-25 (NIV)

I’ve often wondered what the next week was like for Thomas. He had drawn a line in the sand between himself and the others. The closeness of the disciples had been tested by their Master’s death. An earth shattering experience the other disciples shared, he didn’t. Stories swirled throughout Jerusalem of a resurrected Christ, but he doubted.

He knew what he’d seen. He couldn’t put faith in what he hadn’t. It must have been a long week of lonely separation for Thomas.

“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said;

‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.John 20:26-27; (NIV)

It was Jesus’ invitation to break the distance, to reach out and touch up close and personal. Jesus broke the separation Thomas must have keenly felt.

In the last few months, when our world turned upside down, our hearts have known the yearning of close. It’s a good one. It reminds us how blessed we are to have people we miss, because close has more to do with heart than either distance or time.

“Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

How different Thomas’ faith was in the close presence of Jesus once again.

Like my daughter said, you can be in the same city but not as close as an ocean away. Jesus invites close. Closeness reaches out even when touching is impossible. Closeness cares even when there is a lot of space in between. It concerns itself with the welfare of another, and moves souls together even while distance separates.

Today I drove past a store with a sign, “We are open.” It was a happy declaration, a celebration that we won’t always be behind closed doors, obstacles will be removed.

“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”


*Photo by Alexis Fauvet on Unsplash

18 Replies

  1. J.D. Wininger Reply

    Such wisdom from your young lady! Enjoyed this gentle reminder immensely.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you J.D. I enjoyed your comment immensely! She is a special young lady for sure!

  2. Linda Brucato Reply

    wow, I never thought about what Thomas must have felt being excluded from those other guys who had seen Jesus. How beautiful that Jesus went out of His way to show Himself to Thomas! May He do it again and again to those we love who just “can’t” believe!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Amen Linda! Thanks for reading and commenting. As always, its much appreciated.

  3. Sharon Reply

    So true, closeness goes beyond distance! Thanks for sharing Sylvia:)

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Sharon, thanks for reading and commenting! I appreciate it so much.

  4. Emily | To Unearth Reply

    Beautiful wisdom! I can understand her words, as I only see my family once or twice a year. So when I hear the complaints, it can be hard. But at the same time, I’m thankful this season is helping people understand how grateful they are for families!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Grateful it’s true. I hope this will be one of the good outcomes of a really crazy time in our history. Thanks so much for reading and responding!

  5. Nancy E Head Reply

    My kids are nearby but lately that has been irrelevant. And sometimes we go awhile without seeing each other. This time makes me yearn for us again. Is it irony that I mentioned the verse you quote about Thomas at the end?

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Interesting for sure!! Thanks for reading. I appreciate it! I do hope this crazy time passes quickly.

  6. andrew brucato Reply

    thanks Silvia another great reflection

  7. Julie Lavender Reply

    I love this, Sylvia: “Closeness reaches out even when touching is impossible.” We may have had to get creative, but I like the lessons we’re learning through all this. And, it’s lessons I hope we’ll hang onto!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Julie. I am feeling a need to reach out more, and looking for creative ways to do it. And like you, hoping this remains when the Covid is gone. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  8. Jeannie Waters Reply

    Sylvia, I “clicked to tweet” your beautiful message. I love the idea of “Jesus invites close,” a message worth sharing. Thank you!