Thursday, October 13, 2016

"Say Good-Bye"

Philemon 12-13a NAS

“I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, whom I wished to keep with me…”

Paul wrote to his close brother in Christ, Philemon, to appeal for leniency on behalf of a runaway slave. Onesimus became a follower of Jesus under the ministry of Paul and the two became such close friends that Paul could not distinguish between Onesimus and his own heart. With great personal anguish, Paul determined to send Onesimus back to Philemon. In so doing, Paul voluntarily broke his own heart to facilitate a reconciliation between two brothers of opposing social strata. 

Love is risky because it demands that we open our hearts to others around us. Relationships develop and enduring bonds of friendship are established. At some future point, God may call us to break our own hearts and send away the precious object of our love and devotion. He did that with His own Son (John 3.16).

Love hurts. It’s not cheap. Saying good-bye is only easy when a deep union of love was never created. If you choose to love, prepare to suffer. Here are some good-bye’s that hurt me…
  • The deaths of my dogs Suzie, Shalom, Sandy, and Sally.
  • Sending my delinquent adolescent daughter to a foster care facility.
  • Watching my seven children growing up.
  • Six children obtaining driver’s licenses.
  • Four children leaving for college.
  • Two daughters and two sons getting married.
  • Witnessing my dad’s last breath at the hospice center.
  • Leaving the pastoral ministry to work on a failing marriage.
  • The dissolution of my (first) marriage.
  • Leaving Sunset Presbyterian Church.
  • Saying good-bye to my mother and watching her die.  
In every case, love demanded I let go and say good-bye. Each time I wept. It hurt. It still does, if I let it. The precious people (and pets) of my past were meant to become united with my heart. As in the case of Jonathan whose soul “was knit with the soul of David” (1st Samuel 18.1 KJV), the fabric of my heart has become woven and unalterably intertwined with the people I have loved. Also, like David and Jonathan, or Paul and Onesimus, I cannot keep any of them.

There is no one I love on earth more than my (second) wife Adonica. I was smitten when I first met her and am still ‘head over heels’ in love 18 1/2 years after we both said “I do”. I have discovered in this closest of all possible earthly relationships the great joy of both being loved and of having my love received. I am in heaven. Someday I will be required to let go of this woman. I hope our good-bye will be many years in the future. Adonica came into my life as an angel, a gift from heaven, proof of God’s great love for me. I was Ebenezer Scrooge. I woke up from a bad dream and was given a second chance at life on the day I met this woman.

Our future good-bye is an event I do not like to imagine. She is my heart. If Adonica goes before me, then I will be forced to pray to my Father in heaven in the words of Paul to Philemon: 

“I have sent her back to You in person, that is,
sending my very heart, whom I wished to keep with me.”
Philemon 12-13a NAS

[What I could not know when I last re-worked on this article on October 9th, 2014, was that twenty-two days later, Adonica would be diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. She lasted ten months, before I was forced to send my wounded heart back to Jesus. Adonica came to me from Jesus and she went back to Him one year and a month ago. "She came. We loved. She left."[1] I shall forever treasure and deeply miss this amazing woman, but my confidence in a God who can mend my broken heart is greater than the depth of the pain I now feel.]  

The incredible acrylic painting at the top right is called "I Give You My Heart" and used by permission of artist S.M. Lein. Check out his graphics at

[1] How to Survive the Loss of a Love, Colgrove, Bloomfield, McWilliams, (c) 1976, 1991, adapted from poem on page 131 "You came. We loved. You left."

1 comment:

One Sided said...

The loss of my first Grand Child

Saying good-by to my mother

Three daughters married

leaving a church family that was closer that birth family