It’s that time of year again. The time when our group of short-term missionaries pack up and return to the States, which means another round of “goodbyes”. Having grown up as an mk, I am familiar with this process. I admit to even being reticent to get close to new short-termers who arrive on the field because I know that inevitably it will lead to another painful parting. What’s even harder, though, is watching my kids go through it.
Last year my then 7 year old daughter had to say goodbye to one of her closest friends, who had been in Chile for 2 years. She cried herself to sleep for days. This year, it’s my now 7 year old’s turn. Today we had a special brunch for her friend who leaves in 3 days. Oh, the sadness. If my grandma were still alive, she would probably say something like “Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”. Then again, knowing her she might instead say, “Out of sight, out of mind”. She was a very practical sort, after all.
The point is – goodbyes are hard. And despite our efforts to keep people at a distance, God brings them into our lives to encourage us, sharpen us, and challenge us. And we are blessed because of it. Hopefully we are also a blessing to them in this brief season of life while they are just “passing through”. Oh how I look forward to the day when our goodbyes are over. No more tears, no more heartache, no more airports!
As I try and muster the courage to welcome yet another group of short-termers, I remind myself that God is bringing them into my life for a reason. Am I willing to be used by God to point them to Himself? Am I willing to open myself up to hurt because I know God has a reason for bringing them here? An even more difficult question – am I willing to help my children grieve another loss, while encouraging them to open their hearts to new friends? May God give us wisdom and grace to invest in people despite the knowledge of future goodbyes. And may we keep our eyes fixed on that coming day when there will be no more goodbyes because we will be with our Savior forever.
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”