I had a lump in my throat as I said good-bye to my niece on the eve of her move to Massachusetts to attend graduate school at Boston University. Though she had been away four years as an undergraduate, she hadn’t left our state. A two and a one-half-hour drive easily reunited us. Now she would be more than 800 miles away. No longer would we meet regularly to talk. I had to trust that God would take care of her.
Paul likely felt the same way as he said good-bye to the elders of the church in Ephesus. Having established the church and taught them for three years, Paul concluded these elders to be as close as family to him. Now that Paul was headed to Jerusalem, he would not see them again.
But Paul had parting advice for the Ephesians. Though they would no longer have Paul as their teacher, the Ephesians did not have to feel abandoned. God would continue to train them through “the word of his grace” (Acts 20:32) to lead the church. Unlike Paul, God would always be with them.
Whether it’s children we launch from the nest or other family and friends who move away—saying good-bye can be very difficult. They move beyond our influence and into their new lives. When we let go of their hands, we can trust that God has them in His. He can continue to shape their lives and meet their real needs—more than we ever could.
Lord, help us to trust that Your watchful care extends over those we hold dear who are far away from us.
Though we’re far away from those we love, they are never far from God.
In today’s reading we see Paul’s painful good-bye to the church at Ephesus. It was Paul’s deep conviction that his departure would eventually lead to his martyrdom, not his return (v. 25). But other Bible texts add the encouragement that even death cannot cut the spiritual tie that binds us to other believers (John 14:1–5; Rom. 8:31–39). In this life on Earth, saying good-bye to those we love is difficult. But for followers of Christ, we can trust that God has us in His care and even death will not keep us apart.
How does knowing God cares for your loved ones comfort you?
For further study on the book of Acts check out this free course at christianuniversity.org/apostles.