When my wife and I first started dating, about 6 weeks into our relationship, I moved to a city 6 hours away. For nearly two years, we did the long distance dating thing. It forced us to learn how to communicate with each other and trust each other. It also meant a lot of goodbyes. We would see each other in person as much as we could, but we both had responsibilities where we lived. So, after a couple of days together, we would go through this painful long goodbye, sharing “I love you” and “I’ll miss you”, and hugs, and kisses. Eventually the car door would close, and one of us would drive away. Instantly my soul would cry out to God to keep her safe until we could see each other again.
Goodbyes are almost never easy. Saying goodbye to a friend, a family member, a loved one is difficult, especially when you get the sensation that this will be the last goodbye.
In the Book of Acts, Luke tells us about the apostle Paul’s goodbye to the folks in the mission church in Ephesus:
25 “I know that none of you will see me again—you among whom I traveled and proclaimed the kingdom. … 32 Now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all whom God has made holy. …35 In everything I have shown you that, by working hard, we must help the weak. In this way we remember the Lord Jesus’ words: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:25-35 Common English Bible (CEB)
You can feel the pain and heartbreak, wisdom and beauty in this tearful goodbye in Ephesus. Paul commends them to God and encourages them to keep on doing what God wants them to do, namely take care of the less fortunate, serve others, give themselves away to those in need. We may be apart physically, but we are still together in reach of God’s love.
So here’s what’s in a good goodbye: Until we meet again, you do what you do. You be the you that God has made and called you to be. Run the course the Lord has set before you. Know that God loves you and has put a host of people around you to help you run, so that you may help others run as well.
Prayer: Lord, goodbyes are painful, but they can be beautiful. You knew the pain of telling your disciples goodbye before you went to the cross. Be with us in our heartbreaking goodbyes. Mend our broken hearts with the hope of salvation and that someday we will be together again with those you have given us to know and to love. Amen.