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Consider This: ​Long-Lost Family

We lost our connection to our Father a long time ago. But a reunion is coming.

Right now on my TV sit four recorded shows, virtually calling me to stop and watch them, which I’ll do sometime soon. It won’t be a binge-watching session, though. As I tell my wife every time I see just one of these programs, “My emotions can’t take more than two of these in a row!” And yet we keep recording and watching every episode we can.

How often while channel-surfing do you stumble upon an unknown program, watch it for a few minutes purely out of curiosity and become immediately hooked? Yet that’s what happened in our house a few months ago with Long Lost Family.

Here it’s the American version of an award-winning British program that first aired in 2011. Every episode features a couple of individuals in their quest to find and reconnect with long-lost relatives—usually parents and children, but sometimes siblings.

Tugging the heartstrings

The hosts are empathetic—they themselves were either estranged from parents or adopted when young. They’ve already taken an arduous journey of trying to reconcile with, or simply find and connect with, their own biological parents.

After filling in the backstory of each situation, the hosts set out to track down the long-lost parents or children. Your heart gets tugged several times along the way—perhaps when a mother is found and told her child, now an adult, is looking for her, or when a child is told his father is alive and wants to see him. But never are your heartstrings pulled so hard as when they meet. It takes “family reunion” to a completely different level.

This is not your typical, contrived “reality TV.” It’s not a game. This is as real as it gets. No one can rehearse or plan or fake the spontaneous outpouring of raw emotion that sweeps over these folks when they first meet.

It’s fueled by a wide range of deep emotions pent up for years—feelings of past rejection, fear of future rejection, regret, guilt, wondering “who am I?” or why one of the most fundamental connections in life—parent and child—was severed.

The flood of feelings

Every story is different. Some have been blessed with very good lives; some have suffered terribly. Some are well-adjusted; some carry many emotional scars. But they all share a primal, unfulfilled, desperate urge to be with their flesh-and-blood family.

For these adults with such holes in their hearts, there is simply no way to gradually ease into a reunion. The hosts try to help them a bit by giving each party a letter the other has written. But nothing quite prepares them, or the viewer, for the flood of feelings that come flowing out when the door opens and they see one another.

And it doesn’t bother me to admit that as I watch them reach for each other, I’m reaching for a tissue. I haven’t made it through one of these shows without being moved to tears.

Someday … reunited with God

Even more deeply moving to me is a tie-in I see to the plan of God. Every episode reaffirms that we humans innately carry within us a profound longing and need for family.

Why is that? The short answer is, God put it there. He is our Father, we are His children, and the family connections we feel as humans are simply an extension of the connection He feels for us. And He clearly reveals in His Word that He, too, longs to be—and will be—reunited with His children (2 Corinthians 6:18).

In this family issue of Discern, we delight in writing about ways to strengthen those bonds. But with every issue I think we also may feel a little bit like the hosts of Long Lost Family—once lost in our relationship with God, but now reunited, we’re on a quest to help our brothers and sisters find their Father.

And someday soon, God is going to have His long-lost family together again.

Clyde Kilough


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Discern Article Series

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Christianity in Progress
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