No Hellos Without Goodbyes

As we rush through the holiday season, there are greetings galore. We gather with family and friends and share a meal, a treat, perhaps even a gift. We spend time together and, hopefully, recognize the rich blessings of sharing life with those we love.

But sometimes the reality strikes in the midst of the greetings that the inevitable parting will too soon be upon us. We love to gather but we hate to say goodbye. That is, we hate to say goodbye to people with whom we truly enjoy spending time.

And the hellos are joyful. But the goodbyes are difficult. It’s always been so, I suppose.

I was reflecting upon an occasion recorded in the book of Acts (chapter 28) when Paul had asked the leaders of the church at Ephesus to come and meet with him. They were very sad because he plainly told them he would not see them again. But he reminded them of the things he had worked so hard to teach them.

On that day, the hello was sweet, but the goodbye was so hard. And so many of our family gatherings and friend-rich occasions will find our hellos full of joy…but perhaps tinged with the sad reality of the inevitable goodbyes.

I think that one of the most wondrous aspects of life in relationship with Jesus is the assurance of forever spent in His presence WITH all of those who know Him. Just think about it…always hello and never goodbye.

But here and now, the truth is that we cannot have the hellos without the goodbyes. But, if we know that forever is sure because of Jesus, then our partings just increase our appetite for that time that is to come.

As you gather with your family and friends this season, enjoy the hellos. And, as you embrace the inevitable goodbyes, would you just make sure that they are really “see-you-laters?”

There really are no hellos without goodbyes…yet.

Kenny Rogers and Me

I’ve never considered myself a very courageous man.

But I have had a few moments.

One day, almost twenty-six years ago, I somehow managed to summon the courage to ask out a girl that I was pretty sure was way out of my league. She was kind of quiet, so cute, and seemed to have a sly ornery smile. And I went for it.

Twenty-four years ago today, by what I can only say was God’s provision of a blinding love, she took a vow to go with me anywhere and everywhere. And what a journey it has been.

There are so many steps for which I would never have found the courage were it not for her faithful presence by my side, believing in me far more than I have ever believed in myself – even when I gave her every reason not to do so. Continue reading Kenny Rogers and Me

Uncommonly Common

There is something almost startling in finding a very strong and sweet fellowship with people you have just met.

Last night we gathered in the home of a dear new friend with several other new friends for a time of simply being together. We shared a meal. We shared frustrations. We shared a few moments of prayer.

In this particular gathering, we did share, at least to a large degree, a common language. And, as we shared a common meal and shared unique stories, jokes, and memories…we also shared a sweetly common hope. There were many different backgrounds and, no doubt, some very different spiritual perspectives, but a common confidence in the name of Jesus.

I am struck by the richness of this fellowship. It is one that is, no doubt, strengthened through the adversity of workplace challenges, cultural difficulties, and what feels like an uphill climb for their purpose of being here together. But it is deeper than that.

What I think I see in these dear folks is the very thing that our brother Paul challenged us unto:

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (‭Philippians‬ ‭2‬:‭4‬)

It’s a common care that is far too uncommon these days.

What if all of us who follow Jesus were genuinely at least as concerned about the concerns of others as we are about our own?

What if this commomality were not so uncommon?