Yesterday, Alycia and I were sitting in a Cottesloe cafe drinking overpriced coffee surrounded by hipster staff and we caught ourselves reminiscing of the ‘good ol’ days.’ I leaned across to her and said “Just imagine how much more awesome this would be if (insert a bunch of old friends’ names) were here to share this.”
It hurts when you lose friends, especially when they were the sort of friends who shared your penchant for sitting in overpriced cafe’s full of hipster staff…and other things like that.
Leash n I have lost a few over the past 12 months. We really miss them and sometimes we wondered if life will return to the same way again.
I am a pastor’s kid and I also wonder if growing up, I resented God for me losing my close friends every time our family moved to another church. For most of my life, I kind of got used to ‘losing’ people for various reasons, the moment I seemed to get really close to them.
But before you get the tissues out, let me share something:
I was doing my quiet time this morning, continuing my journey through the book of Acts and I noticed something.
Acts 18:18-20 Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after that, then said good-bye to the brothers and sisters and went to nearby Cenchrea. There he shaved his head according to Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow. Then he set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him. 19 They stopped first at the port of Ephesus, where Paul left the others behind. While he was there, he went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews. 20 They asked him to stay longer, but he declined. (Emphasis mine.)
So Paul stayed in Corinth for about one and a half years and then he makes a stop off (eventually) in Ephesus. But then that’s it. He’s gone in a flash.
I wonder how they felt? I wonder if they knew he’d been somewhere else for 18 months? I mean can you imagine having Paul, like…..Paul roll up at your church? Wouldn’t you want him to stay for as long as possible?
But here’s the thing: if there’s one thing I have learned through reading great big wads of Paul’s missionary journeys, it is that every step of them is guided by the Holy Spirit. Every step. That’s why he was such an effective missionary.
But because that is true, it also means this: God does not have Paul in a place one second longer than is necessary……for the Ephesians.
Now that’s all good and well but do the Ephesians know that? Have they understood that?
Do I understand that? Do we?
All those amazing people who both came into my life, and whom I was so sad to have to leave were there for a reason and for a season. In other words, God knows what he’s doing!
As I pondered these things the more I realized one enormous truth about my life:
Though I have had some painful goodbyes, I admit that God has been always there, always faithful, providing me someone who ‘speaks my language’ at every step on the journey.
Please understand that this has nothing to with relationship consumerism or using people. There are of course people in my life that I’ve never had to say goodbye to and hope I don’t have to for many years to come! But let’s simply give glory for God for providing us with the words we’ve needed, and the people to speak them when we needed them.
Instead of moping about the past, I began to get thankful for the obvious truth, God has always been there, speaking through faithful, amazing people I have met and known and even had to since wave goodbye to.
This I think is a really important thing to realize here’s why:
The more I reflect on this the more I am freed to look forward to seeing what God is going to do, through amazing people I’m going to meet in the future.
The very thing that 6 months ago, I simply wasn’t too sure about.
But the best thing is this: one day, there won’t be any more goodbyes, just the chance to say ‘thank you’ to so many people for their input over the years and they’ll just point to the Lamb upon the throne and say: “don’t thank me, thank Him.”
Maybe that’s why Jesus said to his disciples: And LOOK, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:20)
He’s the one who’s always been there; are we looking?