The meaning of goodbye
Saying goodbye has never been something I have struggled with, but lately I have been saying a lot of them. Too many. I spent the past year in South America, and in less than a month I will be heading back; with no idea what the future will hold and not knowing who I will or will not see again. Normally I just let’s things happen; being pretty adaptable to change, not clinging to the past, ready for whatever’s next.
But this is different.
I spent the last year far away from friends and family, and I have come to realize this trend is going to continue. It is finally starting to hit me that the majority of people I have gotten to know up until this point in my life will never see me again. I suppose everyone goes through a stage like this at some point after college, and for me this is just beginning to sink in.
But in the midst of all of this, I have an image I like to dwell on: an image that gives me hope for what is to come. It’s found in one of my favorite worship songs of all time:
For His returning we watch and we pray
We will be ready the dawn of that day
We’ll join in singing with all the redeemed
’cause Satan is vanquished and Jesus is King.
(Sing to The King, Billy Foote)
When I think about that third line, I always see an image: a sea of millions of people, stretching across the landscape. Too many to count, too many to see, all praising The Lord in heaven.
I believe this to be a reality that will happen someday. This means I will be reunited with those I care about, those I’ve lost, and all of those close to me that have also put their faith in this reality. This is an image I like to think about often…
So although saying goodbye might be difficult, there is a silver lining: a beautiful hope for a new and perfect world for those who call on the name of The Lord.
This morning, when I said goodbye to a few friends (for what could be a very long time), this is the reason why I was not sad. Truthfully, there is a very good chance we will see each other within the next few years, but we can’t really know that. No one knows the future, and no one knows when their time will come. But one thing I do know is that after this life we will see each other in a perfect world where there is no pain or suffering. That is the hope I cling to, and that is why goodbye never really means goodbye.
And for those people in my life who have never heard of this hope that I so strongly cling to, I suppose the indefinite time I have left on this earth has been given to me to help share the invitation.