I am a huge fan of furloughs and plan on writing a post on its benefits some time in the near future. This post is more about the end of our furlough, it is the time we are in right now. It is a time when we say good-bye to friends, family, and our church family. It is a time of packing and getting things ready for our return. It is cleaning the house we have rented so that we can turn the keys back in to the owner. It is reflecting over the past year and dreaming of what God may use us to do over the next four years. It is exciting, emotional, and somewhat stressful all at the same time.
These last weeks are filled with packing, preparing, selling, storing, and saying good-bye to those we love. Each one of these things are challenging, but the hardest of all is saying good-bye. At the writing of this post, we have already said good-bye to my father and my sister, brother-in-law, and their kids. We have said good-bye to a few of Leslie’s brothers as well. We will be spending our last days in the States with the rest of our families before we board a plan on Sunday. It is great to be able to spend time with everyone, but it is hard, because we all know it may be a long time before we see each other again.
I think about Jesus and His disciples on the night before His crucifixion. Jesus knew it would be His last night with His friends before He died. He would be with them again for all eternity, but in less than 24 hours, things were going to change. With that in mind, Jesus told His friends a lot of things that evening.
“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:15.
Jesus trained these men, He saw them grow, He knew their strengths and their weaknesses, and they had known Him as Master. But Jesus saw them as more than just servants, He saw them as friends. He let them know about His departure and how He would return for them, He taught them about love, service, abiding, the world and coming persecution, comfort and the Holy Spirit, joy and several other topics. As I read of this final night, I note a heaviness our Savior bore, not only would He bear the sins of the whole world (something I cannot even begin to fathom), but He would be separated from these men that He had spent the past 3 – 3 1/2 years with. He loved them and He knew this was the end of an important time. These chapters were His “final words” with His disciples before He bore the sins of the whole world! He was “saying good-bye” to them.
These last days cannot compare with the last night Jesus had with His disciples. I don’t pretend to know how heavy that burden was, but I do know that saying good-bye is hard. We sit together with loved ones, knowing that just a few hours, we will hug each other with tears in our eyes as we say good-bye. With the technology we have today, we will be able to talk and video chat with everyone from Argentina, but nothing is like being together. These thoughts are fresh in our minds, even if we don’t speak them aloud.
The tearful good-byes are a part of going to the mission field. It is a good thing, even though it is hard. We can focus on these things, or we can focus on the reason we are going to the mission field, that reason is Jesus! God is using us, and we have seen Him do great things. I don’t know what He has in store for us for our second term, I don’t know who we will see saved, or who will be discipled, or who will be trained to advance the Gospel in the ministry, but I believe we will see God use us to see some of all of these things! Although we will miss family and friends, we are excited to see all that God has for us in the coming years! Saying good-bye is tough, but the honor of serving Jesus in Argentina is humbling, exciting, and is a privilege we do not deserve. Saying good-bye for the glory of Jesus in a foreign land is worth all the hurt and sadness. Jesus is worthy of so much more than we could ever give Him!