Absence Makes the Heart Grow... Yonder


The time leading up to Father’s Day has/had me thinking about ‘absence.’ Typically, Father’s Day has me thinking about my kids, my Dad, and my Step-Dad. Outside of praying the normal prayers, I never thought to consider my Heavenly Father on Father’s Day. I’ve been absent, focused on other things, and didn’t offer God my attention or love. And it doesn’t just happen on Father’s Day.

ab·sence [ab-suh ns] noun

1. state of being away or not being present

2. period of being away

3. failure to attend or appear when expected

4. lack; deficiency

5. inattentiveness; preoccupation; absent-mindedness

Please don’t feel slighted. I am not questioning your intelligence and realize we all know what absence means. And, if you’re like me and went away to college, several (intentional) examples can be cited. However, I never realized the extent of the definition, nor how negative ‘absent’ truly is, and now realize just how relevant this word is in my day-to-day life.

We all know the saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” In fact, we’ve likely found this saying rings true with many things throughout our illustrious careers here on God’s spinning blue marble. When I’m traveling for work, I miss my wife, kids, and home. After the Super Bowl, I miss football. Twinkies go bankrupt....I haven’t had one since childhood, but who didn’t miss those golden, cream-filled nuggets of deliciousness? (....and who didn’t want them immediately once the news broke?)

So why does this saying ring true so often? My answer: instant gratification. There’s nothing better than seeing my wife and getting attacked by my kids after a few days away, and even us Eagles fans look forward to the start of every NFL season. I receive instant gratification and confirmation that what I missed was indeed worth missing. Essentially, definitions 1 and 2 (above) apply. The logical, more manageable definitions. When I’m absent from my family, I do not replace them. When I take some PTO, I don’t find a new job. I simply take a short hiatus and return with excitement and a heightened pace.

Yet I find it’s far too easy to replace God, through absence, on a regular basis. With every hiatus, the further I stray, creating more room for distractions and disruptions between God and myself. Here, definitions 3 through 5 enter the fray. Failure to seek fellowship or be God’s voice when others aren’t. Lacking His guidance, making decisions and taking action with spiritual deficiency. Inattentive to countless blessings, preoccupied by distractions, and absent-mindedness. Absent, unknowingly and in destructive fashion, followed by a much different return.

Many times, I realize I’ve strayed from God because I begin to need Him, so I return from my hiatus. Not because I miss Him, but often for selfish reasons hoping for immediate gratification. Because of this, my return may be filled with shame, regret, apologies, requests, and/or anything else in between. I think you get the picture....

....so I’ll get to the good news. Twinkies are back. Now the great news. God seeks us. Constantly. God is always by our side, wanting our attention and craving our discussion. God seeks us, no matter how far we’ve strayed or how long we’ve wandered. God is constant, and there’s no travel time to get back home and realize God is worth missing.

Ezekiel 34:16

I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again.

con·stant [kon-stuh nt] adjective  

4. faithful; unswerving in love, devotion, etc.

5. steadfast; firm in mind or purpose; resolute.

Steve Row-bio-ttom

Steve Rowbottom is the happy husband of Melissa, who live together in toddler-tantrum-infused harmony with their three children - Kaylee, Mason, and Lily – in Palmer Township. Steve has worked for the corporate division of Cigars International for 13 years, much to the delight of many men at FPC Bethlehem....especially those at Lake Champion. Steve has been a member of FPC Bethlehem since 2005.