Grieving the Goodbyes…Again

I said goodbye to my youth pastor yesterday.

That was difficult.

Even though I’ve only known him for a few years, it was still so hard. I tried to hold back tears as I thought about him leaving.

And I don’t even cry at funerals.

I drove away from our church pondering the reality that I may never see him or his family again. I can’t remember specific events that impacted me so much, but I do know that he and his family impacted my church and desired to draw us toward Christ.

Are goodbyes supposed to be this hard?

He wasn’t supposed to leave so soon. He was supposed to stay at my church forever…right?

True, it wasn’t my turn to leave. That made the situation slightly easier because I wasn’t going anywhere new. (You may remember I did go somewhere new last year–and it was an adjustment!)

But it was his turn to leave. And I had to trust that he was following God’s leading…even if it was far away from us.

Have you ever had to say goodbye to someone who was leaving? Maybe it was a sibling who was joining the military or a parent who was starting a new job or a friend who was moving to a new home? I’m sure you can relate. Goodbyes are hard, even when you’re not the one leaving.

Sure, my youth pastor and his family are just a call, an email, or a text message away.

But they won’t be with me.

Sure, I could visit them sometime if I wanted to.

But they won’t be with me.

Sure, I could catch up with them over Skype and see their happy faces.

But they won’t be with me.

Who will be with me? Who will be with them?

He will.

Jesus will.

“…and lo, I am with [them] always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

There is One who my youth pastor will never have to say good-bye to. He doesn’t have to worry about being alone because Christ will be with him to the end of the age—even at a new church that is hours away.

My youth pastor knows what his goal should be: to draw people to Christ. And in this new season of life, he can do exactly that. Glorifying God and leading others should be my top priority. Even in the stages of sadness and adjustment, we can still share Christ with others.

Before I end this post, I wanted to say this to my youth pastor and his family:

I know you are well-aware of this, but I just wanted to say that I’m going to miss you guys. I’ve enjoyed our last few years together, and our church won’t be the same without you. This is going to be hard transition, but God is with you. He is with you at your new job, your new home, and your new church. He holds you as you say the hard goodbyes and the hard hellos. Jesus will never say goodbye, and we never need to say goodbye to Him. I know you guys will be a blessing at your new church, and you will be in my prayers as you begin this new season of life. Jesus is with you. Always.

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