Have you ever said goodbye to a friend? I’m not talking about a “see ya later” but a full fledged farewell. To go a long time or perhaps forever without seeing that friend again?
The story in Acts 20 is one of the most painful moments in the New Testament. Paul calls the elders of Ephesus together and warns and encourages them one last time. He knows that wherever he goes, only “imprisonment and affliction” await him. The elders know that they will never see his face again. They’re losing the one who poured his heart, life and soul into their church for the past three years.
As I was reading this portion of the story, I was reminded of a situation I was in a few weeks ago where I said goodbye to 35 children I have known personally for years, not knowing what would happen to them or who would teach and pray and sing “The Wheels on the Bus” with them. Going into that job, I decided so many times that I would not hold back my heart from those children even though I knew that it would make the farewell far more painful. But as that time came, God helped me realize that I would MUCH rather take the deeper love and the deeper pain.
We’re called to pour out our heart and soul in love for those around us, even though it’s a recipe card for some painful moments, but the rewards are so worth it.