Within our lives as humans, people come and go all the time- its a part of life. Sometimes their leaving is temporary, other times it is something more significant, and ultimately, it can be permanent. Separation is usually accompanied by a degree of emotional pain. The pain of missing that person, and what they add to our lives. The love we have for them, and then there are the memories, let’s not forget them. The memories; thousands of little individual moments all strung together that create one big smile. All of this makes goodbyes very difficult.
I recall in Acts 20, the scene of Paul and the Ephesian elders. The bible said after Paul finished telling them of his fate that awaited him, what grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. That moment. That realization was so emotional, it brought them to tears. Only God in his infinite wisdom could bind his children together in such a beautiful perfect way that departures from one another are accompanied with ”great” tears. Only God can take a room full of strangers and through one incredible act on a cross bind those strangers into a family that would go to the ends of the earth for each other; and yes, even die for one another. That is the family of God. And that, is a part of what makes us so special. Although the world doesn’t understand us, it is the heart of God that binds us together so perfectly, so beautifully that we are not the same when one of us is missing.
As I think about the touching scene in Acts 20, there is one thought that always overcomes me. One thought that shines through like the intense brightness of the sun through a crack in the clouds. There are no goodbyes in Christ Jesus, only farewells, I’ll see you later. It is right there in that moment, we realize God fixed everything, and didn’t leave any experience uncovered. He covered it all. Although for the world it is goodbye, for us in Christ it is always- see you later. If not here, I’ll see you eternally in heaven. What an exciting thought. We are never fully separated from one another, it’s only temporary at best, and then it grows into something beyond our ability to fully comprehend- eternity!
So when we come to that place- the hard part of leaving, we do so with a heart full of grateful tears. Not only because of our separation, and the realization we won’t see each other; no, it is overwhelming tears of joy, because God fixed it so never are we separated forever- only for a time. Only for a season. Only until like the sun through the clouds- eternity shows up and we are united again forever. I imagine when this thought gripped the Ephesian Elders it was great comfort for them to know regardless what happened to Paul in Rome, they WOULD see him again. And when they did, it lasted throughout all eternity. Praise God!!
So, Dan and Anne, we don’t know what fate awaits you or us. Today our hearts are filled with tears every time we envision you saying goodbye on your way to Tennessee, but we know it is never the end, only a pause in time, until we get to the great eternity, where we will endure one pun after another from Dan. We love you both, and will miss you beyond words. God be with you- until eternity. Blessings.