I used to not get that emotional. I used to do okay at goodbyes. Gone are those days. Maybe I’m just getting old. Or maybe the goodbyes are just becoming more and more regular.
Today was my pastor’s last Sunday at church. He is transitioning to a new ministry, after serving here for over a decade. My family has attended for almost four years, and I have never been so close or so impacted by a pastor in my entire life. I don’t typically cry, but I was tearing up as he gave his last message. I’ve never attended a church that had a pastor leave. This is going to be hard. I guess it’s just the end of an era…
These next couple weeks will be filled with the ending of many eras. Many good things in my life will be fading out And I don’t feel like I’m ready. Most seniors are dying to graduate, counting down the days. Me? Well, sincerely…I’m going to miss it!
There’s the Bible Club outreach I’ve done since freshman year that I have given to a new leader (a great one, I might add). This coming Saturday, I will go for my last time and give my last Bible story to the kids. I’ve been thinking of what to say. There’s just so many faces of so many adorable African-American kids that will be staring back at “Mr. Matt” for the last time. I love them all…
On Friday, it will be my last Ministry Class as the Vice President. We’ve done three Rooted and Grounded Conferences, plus a bunch of other stuff. I’ve grown to love my fellow officers and particularly the freshmen in the class. They have such a heart for God, and I pray they continue to do what’s right. It’s time for us seniors to move on–and get out of their way! I can’t wait to see what those guys accomplish to gain “souls for Jesus.”
The following Wednesday will be my last society ever (for those who don’t understand my college’s lingo, a “society” is like a fraternity, but more “godly”). I’ve been Chaplain for two semesters now, and I’ve grown to love my guys (again, particularly the freshmen). Almost all my good friends will be sitting there as I deliver my last challenge (probably hoping I don’t go long like I always do). What do I say? How can I spur them on to accomplish great things for God as a society?
I’m going to have to give too many farewell addresses. I’m going to have say “goodbye” to too many people. I’m going to have to give up too many opportunities to the next generation. It’s sad…but it’s a hopeful kind of sad.
Because God isn’t finished with me yet! And He’s not finished with those I’m leaving either.
If I’ve learned anything over my lifetime, it’s this: God is faithful. 100%. He’s never, EVER let me down, and I know He never will. It’s simply incredible. Why do I doubt Him? Why do I worry about the future of all these ministries? I may be leaving…but God certainly isn’t. He is with me AND with them…to the end of the era.
While I’m studying what to say for my many farewells, I think what Paul said for His own “goodbyes” to both the Ephesian elders and the Thessalonians will serve as inspiration.
“And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” -Acts 20:32
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” -1 Thess. 5:24
I can trust God for the future of my own life. And I can trust Him also for the future of my church, my friends, my outreach, and my society. He’s been faithful all the way. And He’ll be faithful to the end of the era…and beyond!
Just as He said in His own goodbye…
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matt. 28:20