"'And now I commend you to God. . .' When he had finished speaking, he knelt down with them all and prayed. There was much weeping among them all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving especially because of what he had said, that they would not see him again. Then they brought him to the ship." - Acts 20:17-38
I used to hate goodbyes. I remember summers when we would take the 33-hour car drive from South Dakota to Boston to see family, and when those lovely weeks were over and it was time to get back in the car for the long ride home I’d always cry. It would be another year before I saw all those special people again, and that was always tough.
I’ve said many goodbyes of many types since those days, as do we all. Some goodbyes are heart-breaking, some are a welcome relief. Paul, when he leaves the Ephesians, does a great job of offering a great goodbye. They pray, he tells them what they mean to him, they remember what they did together, they share some tears, and then he commends them to God. Goodbye is a contraction of the phrase “God be with ye,” and that’s a much better thing to say and feel when we part, don’t you think?
If we acknowledge that in our absence from one another, God continues to be with us, and between us while we’re parted, we’re really not separated. Goodbyes seem so final. “God be with ye” reminds us that we’re still bound together, even if we’re physically apart.
With so many goodbyes happening around us these days, perhaps that’s something we would do well to remember a little more. Maybe it will help a bit.
God Of Fellowship, remind us that you with us when we’re apart as much as you’re with us when we’re together, and that always keeps us in the bonds of fellowship.