“And God, I am like her father here since her own father is far away, so I ask that you please protect her and go before her as she moves away.” The elderly man’s prayer touched my heart as we prayed together in his small bamboo hut one last time. Though I knew that I would most likely never see this precious grandfatherly man again here on earth, his faith is strong, and I look forward to reuniting with him in heaven.
This goodbye was one of many as I prepared to leave. God has blessed me tremendously in my time serving His Palawano children—I will never forget them—but God closes doors and opens others. Many goodbyes were mingled with tears, some so much that it made talking almost impossible, and I had to rely on the tears to convey the many things I wished I could say.
My dear Palawano friend and I held each other and cried as I was getting ready to leave. I took the chance to ask her if she really believed in God. She has gone back and forth between professing faith in God and then pulling away again many times over the years, but before I left, I wanted to hear from her if we would meet again in heaven or not. She assured me that we would. I pray that God will continue to strengthen her faith and draw her closer to Him.
Goodbyes are so hard, and I cannot wait until heaven when there are no more tears and no more parting. I cannot wait to be neighbors again with those I just said goodbye to or see this little elderly man with renewed health and vigor. I look forward to seeing the bed-ridden grandmother that I nursed through the last several years of her life—alive again, running and walking. To see the angels bring my friend’s two little girls and lay them in her arms, with no trace of the congenital disease that severely shortened their lives. To see my friend there—the result of years of many people interceding on behalf of her and all the others that have been invested in, interceded for and loved.
This hope makes all the goodbyes bearable and all the sacrifice worth it. As we live our lives day by day, let us be intentional in doing all that we can to ensure that goodbyes are temporary rather than forever.