There were other goodbyes during my childhood and they were usually when I was going to camp. Like I said, I was a home body and although I wanted to go, I almost think I would rather stay. However, as I look back, I am glad I said those goodbyes because camp is where I made many decisions for the Lord. The first one, salvation, and then giving my life to the Lord for whatever area of service He wanted me in.
Other times I said short goodbyes to Mom and Dad if they went away for a trip. I remember my dad going on a couple of business trips - oh, I did not like that, but I always looked forward to his return and he always brought us a special little gift.
Then the day came for me to go to college. That was the most difficult day of my life up to this point. I knew the Lord wanted me to go, but once again, I was not crazy about leaving home. And to top it off, my parents could not take me; I had to ride with my brother who first went to another state for three days to visit a friend (now his wife) and then we went on to college.
I did not know anyone, except my brother (so happy he was there), and I cried for a month. I am amazed that I did not quit and go home. I think the grace of God kept me there. That is where He wanted me for three years to learn and to grow Spiritually.
During this time my life verse became: Isaiah 30:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
I knew God would direct my steps and show me His perfect will for my life. And He did!
After completing college, I worked near home for a year and then once again said goodbye to family and friends as I took a teaching position in Forest Park, GA. And if I had not gone, well, I may have never met my husband. For this is where the Lord led me to the right man; we just recently celebrated our 35th anniversary. God is so good.
Since then there have been many more goodbyes:
- another goodbye to my parents as we made our home in GA and they were in NY
- a goodbye to my husband's parents as we left for MO so that my husband could complete his Bible School training
- We moved back to GA after three years, lived there for 15 years and during this time there were more goodbyes as we said goodbye to my grandmother, my dad, and my grandmother-in-law as they left this earth for their eternal home in glory.
- Later there were more goodbyes in order to move to NC where our children attended Ambassador Baptist College.
- While in NC, we had more sad goodbyes as my mother, two aunts, father-in-law, and uncle all left their earthly homes to be with the Lord.
- More goodbyes as our children married and left one by one to start their own homes. That empty nest was hard at first!
- Another goodbye over three years ago to sis and her husband as they left for New Guinea to complete missionary work that they had started there.
- Another goodbye over two years ago when our youngest son, left for Brazil as a missionary.
- And today - our oldest son left with his family for WI to do inner city mission work. I have been crying all day.
- Dedication to the Lord's service
- Special memories made along with special gifts
- Many new friends who all love the Lord
- Knowing God's perfect will
- Marrying the Right Person
- Knowing our loved ones are with the Lord and we have the hope of seeing them again one day
- People being reached with the gospel on the mission field
- Children who love the Lord, are serving Him, and are seeking to guide their children to do the same. This has been my life long prayer and God has answered! This makes goodbyes worth it all!
- Blessing after Blessing - I am reminded of this verse: Psalms 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
I know many others have experienced other kinds of goodbyes - some much harder than I, but one thing we can remember is that we need never say goodbye to the Lord.
If we know Him as Lord and Savior, he is always there. He will never leave. Hebrews 13:5 . . . for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. We have His unseen presence with us daily and His presence with us through the Word of God, and one day we will be in His presence for eternity. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
We say goodbye in parting
With loved ones here below:
We always hope to meet again,
As on our way we go,
But oft our hearts are grieving
For those we never meet.
We'll say goodbye in sorrow.
Till we meet in Jesus' feet.
Our children leave the home nest
For school or wedding bells;
Or country's call or mission field
May take them far as well.
Now wedding bells are happy,
And God's way always right.
And absent ones, we'll greet them
In the City always bright.
We greet and part with dear ones;
We say hello, goodbye;
And letters bind our fellowship,
We miss them, though we try
To feel them always near us,
And follow them with prayer,
But parting days are ended
When we meet them in the air.
Oh happy, glad home-coming
With Jesus in the sky;
For sometimes He seems far away,
Though always if we try.
We find Him near to help us,
His Spirit dwells within.
But only perfect union
When we Heaven enter in.
We'll never say goodbye in Glory,
In the morning, over yonder;
We'll never say goodbye in Glory;
We'll never say goodbye up there.
~~JOHN R. RICE~~