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.’” 36 After he said these things, he knelt down with all of them to pray. – Acts 20: 32, 35-36 (CEB)
I’m getting older. We all are. It’s life. But part of us aging, means those around us are getting older too. I recently got to see my dad, and while he is reasonably healthy, at 77 years old, I always have to wonder, was it the last time?
What do you say to someone when you know in all likelihood it will be the last time you ever see them face-to-face? Sure, it’s not as bad with modern technology, we can always Skype or FaceTime. But when you know you physically won’t be in the room with that person again, what do you say?
In Acts 20 (above), Paul is saying goodbye to his friends and co-workers at the church he planted in Ephesus. He knows he will probably never see them again. You can feel the heartache if you read the whole section slowly. Here in the last verses of his goodbye, he trusts them to God’s grace and reminds them to work hard so that you can be a giver to others. That’s great advice, like a parent to a child, no matter what age, reminding you to be safe, use your manners, and write thank you notes.
Then there’s this final moment of speaking to God together in prayer. Their final, tearful, earthly goodbyes ring a note of Heaven’s hope. Isn’t that beautiful? Then he gets on the ship and sails on.
Most the time, we don’t know when our last goodbye will be with someone, but sometimes we do. I find it helpful in those moments to trust God that we will be together again someday.
Prayer: Lord, saying goodbye is hard. Parting is such sweet sorrow. Thank you for putting people in our lives to love and share this journey with. May we be together again someday. Amen.