ODJ: saying goodbye

March 17, 2014 

READ: Acts 20:13-38 

They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they escorted him down to the ship (v.38).

Today I told my friend Jen goodbye. Having met her a year ago, I liked her from the first time I interviewed her for a teaching position in our department. I soon realised we were twins born 8 years apart—she too keeps bananas in her freezer and has a sensitive heart. Witty, bright, strong—and unafraid to cry—Jen embraces life with passion. I’ll miss her dearly as she begins a new life with her husband in a different part of the country. As unexpectedly as our paths crossed, they now divide.

Travelling around Europe and Asia, the apostle Paul knew more of partings and distance in his relationships than he did of consistency and geographical closeness. Though he was unafraid to tell of his disappointment in various relationships and quick to ask for aid when needed (2 Timothy 1:15, 4:10-13), the account of his meeting with the elders from Ephesus for a final goodbye provides an intimate glimpse into the love Paul had for others. He wanted—and perhaps even needed—to see them again (Acts 20:17). But when dealing with the finality of this parting, Paul kept his eyes focused on the purpose God had given him for those relationships in the first place: to advance Jesus’ kingdom (vv.24-25).

Separation isn’t easy, even when we know God is in control and especially when the relationship is one that has brought spiritual growth to our lives. We fear change; we dread loss. But we can either live closed off in an attempt to avoid painful goodbyes, or we can fully love those God gives us in a divine—not random—appointment.

When the goodbyes invariably come, our hope remains constant: God is up to something good (Romans 8:28). —Regina Franklin

Ruth 3:1-18 ‹365-day plan

Read 1 Samuel 20:27-42 and consider how David and Jonathan’s lives would have been decidedly different if they had made their always being together a contingency for their obedience to God. 
How can we determine if fear of loss is affecting our ability to form healthy, godly relationships with others? What person has God recently brought into your life in a divine manner? How are you stewarding that relationship?