Sometimes even the best of friends have to part ways. Occasionally our friends leave us due to positive reasons: they received an offer for their dream job, but they have to move far away; they are getting married; they are being deployed overseas. Other times, we part ways with our friends because our relationship isn’t what it once was: we’ve been hurt or we’ve hurt them; we’ve grown apart; we’ve simply lost touch.
Whether we part for positive reasons or negative reasons, its usually hard to say goodbye to our friends. When that time does come, however, let me encourage you to take some advice from today’s Scripture passage and build a heap of witness.
Please read Genesis 31:44-55.
Jacob and Laban have had their disagreements. While Jacob has worked for Laban for 20 years, most of them were filled with one person trying to trick the other. When Jacob finally leaves, Laban knows that he will likely never see his daughters again. But, to keep them from parting in sorrow, Laban decides to focus on the positive. Together, Laban and Jacob get work gathering stones, and make a “heap of witness.”
This was a typical Israelite monument, made without any tools in memory of something great that God had done. In this case, they are honoring God as a witness of the covenant that Jacob and Laban are about to make. This is why they both call it a “heap of witness.” Laban names it thus in Aramaic, while Jacob names it in Hebrew.
What was it that God was witnessing? A covenant promise between Laban and Jacob that they would not pass this monument in pursuit of evil towards one another. There would be no more tricks for a covenant could not be broken. This was a solemn oath that they both would make and could trust—for perhaps the first and last time in their entire relationship.
While Jacob and Laban had a difficult relationship, it ended on a positive note--with a heap of witness.
None of us like leaving our friends. But in our transient society, it is inevitable for many of us. When this does happen, we would be wise to follow Laban and Jacob’s example, and make a memorial of the positive aspects of our friendship. We can make a ‘heap of witness’ honoring our good intentions for each other, even though you must depart.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we know that our parting will only be temporary, for we will meet again in heaven if not before then. So, by focusing on the positive parts of our friendship, we can rejoice, even in the midst of our departure. And, for the rest of our lives, we can look back on our heap of witness and rejoice in the friendship that we once had.
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