Goodbyes are not Forever
…he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him.
Acts 20:36, 37
Most bibles include maps with colored lines detailing Paul’s travels. The lines wind from city to city, port to port. Within a few sentences found in Acts, we glimpse the depth of the relationships Paul established among the groups of believers comprising the early church. In Acts 20, we see Paul rushing to make it to Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost. Instead of stopping in Ephesus, he invites the leaders of the church to meet with him for some final words of encouragement.
Several years ago I sat under the teachings of a seasoned sociologist teaching a class on group dynamics. A significant statement has remained with me. She said, “All of life is made up of hellos and goodbyes. We work hard on our hellos. Few of us know how to say goodbye.” Her assignment for the day guided us in bringing our three day workshop to closure as we took time to say our ‘goodbyes’ to one another.
That is what I see Paul focused on within this small gathering of believers. They were saying their goodbyes, getting closure on Paul’s rich times of teaching, equipping and establishing the church in Ephesus. The rest of the passage states in verse 38, What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.
Paul’s statement was true. They would never see Paul again in person on earth. It’s a reality all of us will face many times within our lifetimes, a final goodbye. But what joy to know that it’s only for a short time if we and our friends or loved ones know Jesus Christ as our Savior. Just imagine these same leaders currently enjoying unlimited fellowship with Paul in Paradise—and we will too one day! Truly, goodbyes are not forever for those who rejoice in Christ their Savior.
Father, thank You for the gift of enjoying all my believing friends and family members for eternity. Thank You for bringing that eternal perspective to the times of difficult goodbyes. I ask that You draw the hearts of those who don’t know You as their Savior to You so they too can know that sweet forever fellowship!