Devotional: Being known

Published 6:22 pm Friday, December 8, 2023

Longwood University retired faculty member extraordinaire, Dr. Carolyn Wells, is nearing the end of her earthly walk. She may even be in her next chapter of life by the time you read this. Until then, I will continue sitting by her side, reading and praying and sharing whatever encouragement I might. It has been tough to sit with her, though, as she has struggled in tremendous pain. Cancer is evil. 

Despite my best prayers, her comfort has largely depended on others. Thankfully, she has good help. This process of change has gotten me thinking about when we might meet again, though. You and I both know many people who have departed this mortal coil and joined the saints in light. As a minister, I have buried more people than I could come close to naming. It is a blessed part of the job, but it says more about where we are all headed who are in Christ Jesus.

Will we all just know everyone when we meet again? I had a momentary flash of anxiety in thinking about running into so many people that I have helped bury over the years but could never recall their names. Some are so far back in my memory that I have lost them; others I only knew very briefly; still others were largely unknown until I was invited by a funeral director to help. It seems either it will be like it is now – meeting and knowing those in our circles of connection as we have dealings, or it will be one big, known family in which we all recognize everyone.

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Of course, all of this is conjecture. Still, it is easy and welcome to reflect on what life might be like among the saints in light. One verse came to me as I mulled this over and is the reason for my sharing this today. First Corinthians 13:12, right in the middle of one of the great love passages, has this intriguing verse: For now we see only a reflection, as in a mirror, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. As Paul reflects on the difference between now and then, he makes this interesting assertion that in the life to come, we will know fully as we have been fully known. Our knowledge is connected to how we are known already. It is deeply personal and intimate and connectional how we will have knowledge in the great hereafter. It is not just that we will have encyclopedic knowledge, but we will have thorough and complete knowledge of each other. We will seem to meet everyone as very old friends. 

As I understand this in my own limited, human way, I find this comforting. It sounds like we will truly be reunited with not only our loved ones, those whom we knew before, but also with all of God’s children in a tremendously personal way. Amen to perfect family!

Rev. Dr. Peter Smith is the pastor for Farmville Presbyterian Church. He can be reached at pastorfpc@centurylink.net.