Archive for June, 2013

The Sorrow of Parting – and the Joy of Reunion

June 21, 2013


Just recently my husband’s aunt returned for a visit from Australia where she had made her home many years ago. How wonderful it was to see her again after quite a few years! With Australia in mind, I recall the emigration of an uncle of mine to that far-off place when I was a child. Their house was sold and my uncle and his wife and children stayed with various relatives until the morning they were to leave. My grandmother was distraught as she said goodbye for the very last time to her son and his family on the platform of Portadown railway station. Sadly she was never to see him ever again and some have even said that she knew this instinctively and that this parting knowledge broke her heart.

As we hugged and said our goodbyes to my husband’s aunt at a farewell reunion of his side of the family, I felt emotional in the knowledge that some of the family may have passed away, should she ever return. It is difficult, too, for someone in their seventies to make that long journey. Australia is about as far as anyone can travel from the island of Ireland, involving long flights.

Some months ago I waved goodbye to my daughter as once more she returned to Italy. I stood there, at our front door and watched, waving, while the car, with my husband driving, made its way slowly out onto the country road outside our home. I watched her last wave to me and then with a heavy heart, I turned and made my way to her bedroom, where I kneeled at her bed to pray for her. I prayed for that ‘hedge of thorns’ to surround her and for the Lord’s protection in her life. Parting is never easy.

Many a tear is shed in railway stations, sea ferry terminals and great airports the world over as loved ones say their goodbyes, not knowing for absolutely certain that they shall ever meet again in this life. I remember sitting in a train which had stopped in a railway station in pre-war Yugoslavia. Wives, mothers and girlfriends were on the platform crying, as young soldiers boarded the train. Although this was 1981, it was a strange scene, almost like a film from the Second World War era…

I was young then too and very touched by this great expression of sorrow that I was witness to.

Parting is never easy when those we love depart this scene of time either. Death, that last enemy snatches our loved ones and leaves us with broken hearts.

And some day there will be a different kind of parting too, for “then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” (Matthew 24v40&41) This is surely the ultimate in a sorrowful parting – the reality that souls will never ever meet again in eternity.

Yet this terrible separation need never happen, for the Lord Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose again that families, acquaintances and loved ones might be united in Him today – and for always.

The most terrible and unthinkable separation of all would surely be the one whereby we are separated eternally from the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. This horrific possibility was never in the Lord’s will for any person on this earth. He gave His life that a glorious reunion may be ours in heaven – with those we loved and knew who trusted Him here. And most wonderful of all is the knowledge that we can rest in His Presence throughout the glorious years of eternity, when all tears shall be wiped away from our eyes and pain, dying, sorrow and war shall be no more. It is surely His will that you turn in repentance and faith to the One who loves you and died for your salvation that you might know His Presence in your life forevermore. May the Lord bless these words to your heart.



Tears of anguish fell so long ago,

With emigration’s cruel and bitter flow.

Earthly ties were cut forever,

Loved ones lost to man’s endeavour.


Oh that every circle would unbroken be,

On that other shore beyond life’s crashing sea,

So find that promised rest, oh troubled soul,

That thy name be called from Jesus’ blessed roll.


© Elizabeth Burke


If Trees could talk… A Walk in Balrath Woods

June 1, 2013


On the return journey from Navan, County Meath recently we stopped for a short time at Balrath Woods, a beautiful spot throughout the seasons. Known locally as ‘Knockcomra,’ oak, beech, ash and spruce grow in these mixed woodlands, while lovely wildflowers carpet the depths of the woods. One tree in particular caught my eye – ‘the great beech.’ I don’t know how old this one is but my guess is that it has probably seen several centuries. How amazing to think that some trees, like the oak, can live for more than a thousand years! As a child I used to think how fascinating it would be if an ancient tree had eyes to see, ears to hear conversations – and a tongue to describe the people who had walked past it over the centuries. Fashion, language and terminologies, manners, customs, technology and life as a whole have changed dramatically over the centuries but some things never change…

The natural man’s need for salvation never changes; Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, and to day and for ever” – and the “Word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Hebrews 13v8, Isaiah 40v8)

“Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away,” Jesus tells us in Mark 13v31.

Very high up in the beech tree I saw a name deeply carved into the bark and I wondered how long ago this was carved and whether the person who carved it was still alive today.

Surely we make our marks upon the earth – for good or for evil. We will never walk this short journey of life without leaving some sort of impression on the other lives we touch.

As I listened to the chorus of birdsong in this lovely unspoilt place, I thought on the beauty of the Lord’s creation and could only imagine the wonders of the Garden of Eden before the fall of mankind.

I looked beyond the trees where soft fluffy clouds were gathering in the blue sky.

Are you ready today, to meet the Lord, should He break through the clouds, to take those who belong to Him home to glory?

“Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord, because he cometh to judge the earth.” (1 Chronicles 16v33)

There are numerous references to trees (and indeed different species of trees) mentioned in the Bible but perhaps some of the most spiritually significant are those trees which are mentioned in parables and in the first and last books of the Bible – Genesis and Revelation.

How sad that mankind ate of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” but how marvellous that God has sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to save ‘to the uttermost’ those who trust in His finished work upon the cross of Calvary.

Trees have existed since those early days of creation and if ancient trees could talk, what stories they would tell us! They have been used as weapons, turned into paper, regrettably carved into articles of worship; used to make an ark of ‘gopher wood’ and the ark of the covenant; in the day of the battle of David and Absalom “the wood devoured more people than the sword;” they are a source of paper for the printed word, and once so long ago a large piece of wood was carried to a place which is called in the Hebrew “Golgotha.”

The Lord Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose again that we might have right to the tree of life.

“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they might have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates of the city.” (Rev. 22v14)

Only in His strength can we “do His commandments,” so that we may be likened to the “man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. And he shall be like a tree planted by the river of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1 – 3)

Surely, our leaves shall never wither while we are walking in the perfect light of the Son.