Of Farewells and Discipleship

Saying goodbye isn’t the nicest thing to do. But since our lives are forever changing,  even the world’s spinning enables us to appreciate that fact that yes – we are constantly moving in this temporary home – a dot in the whole wide Universe, then we can say that goodbyes are part of our lives. I’d prefer the word “farewell” over goodbye for even if they mean the same thing – farewell has a nice ring to the ears and heart! Fare well means ”you go well..may God’s peace and blessings be with you. ”

When it was time to say our farewells to a group of ladies whom I have been walking along with in the spiritual walk these past 8 years (although some only for months  and weeks!) , it was a bitter-sweet one. Like Paul , who at first, was reluctant to meet the Ephesian leaders in Asia as he was hurrying to reach Jerusalem ( read the story here) , finally decided to see them to bid farewell at Miletus. Last Saturday was the same. I was not ‘reluctant’  to meet these wonderful ladies , in fact , it was meant to be a surprise until I learned earlier on that the venue would be in our home! It was the same in a way that these are the people whom we shared our lives with,  poured our hearts out, constantly encouraged, rebuked at times when needed. The church calls it discipleship. We bring others to Christ, have fellowship with them, empowering them as they lead other people to Christ… and the cycle goes on and on…It has been said that “Discipleship is relationship”. Great is the spiritual bond that i share with these women of faith.

What to say when it’s time to say farewell?  I shared some truths from what Paul said ( Acts 20:13-38 ):

1.  We do not know what will happen in the future but we can face it and face it with confidence!  What was only known to Paul was that the Holy Spirit tells him prison and suffering await him city after city (v. 22). It could be different to you and me. For us, it has always been from glory to glory. It will be our 10th move as a family and with each move, God always brings us to a better place , not that one that is perfect – far from it, even! – but one that constantly teaches us to be more patient, to endure suffering, to be more dependent on Him. So that in all things He is glorified!

2. Our lives are meaningless if we are not living out God’s assignment. God is calling each of us for a specific purpose. We are gifted in many ways – different but with the same goal. Sometimes , He brings us to another season, to another assignment. To me, my new assignment is to be a ‘WAHM”- (Work-at-home-mom) as I will devote my time in homeschooling the kids and some freelance work . Those who know me knew these are new challenges for me, having practically worked in the marketplace all this time. The constant and primary assignment is being a supportive wife to my husband. This means, preparing the home for him so whenever he’s done with his secondary assignment (his work), the home will always be the haven for him.  To the gracious lady whom I have entrusted the group, it’s also a new assignment for her! But just like Paul, whatever and wherever the assignment is , may we share in “the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God” (v.24).  There is always an opportunity for us to share the Gospel whether at home or in the marketplace.

3. Guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd the flock. Be on watch as His appointed leaders. Paul warned of false teachers as vicious wolves – of even people inside that may distort the truth and divide the church! (v. 28-31) How do we constantly guard ourselves? by abiding in Him, in His word, in the truth and by making it a habit to constantly meet. In short, don’t give up the small-group meetings! And continue in the business of discipleship!

4. Trust in God and in His grace.  I am entrusting everyone to God’s safekeeping. His grace will be our keeper and sustainer. The key is to realize that we should all trust in God , not on an earthly, imperfect man or woman.

In the end, I tell myself – if I have drawn these people more to me than to the Lord, then I have failed in discipleship. After all, we should be making Jesus followers , not church or man- followers.

***

Thank you Lord, for the gift of friends, for Your Son, Jesus Christ who is the author and perfecter of our faith..who knew how it was to say farewell in the road of obedience to the will of the Father, giving us the assurance that  He has for us another Helper, the Holy Spirit, to be with us forever . We are never forsaken and our hearts will never be troubled.  Amen.

***

“And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.” Acts 20:32

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