This week is, good Lord willing, my last full week in Jackson before initiating the “launch sequence” for moving overseas to serve God in France. This sequence consists of about 2.5 weeks of seeing my brother, attending meetings at the Mission Headquarters, and a few last days in Jackson before flying out. It is a very melancholy time for me as I reflect on the great things God has done in and through me over the years I have spent in Jackson. I know God has a purpose and a plan for me back in France and I am anxious to see that unfold. But saying goodbye, one by one, to my dear friends here is difficult. I have to admit I have cried a few tears in the process.
Some of my friendships were formed through my work at the State. Some were the children I interacted with. Still others were those regulars I drove for and who became like family to me. Then there are my driver friends who I chatted with while waiting in the airport queue. And of course those in my church family. I don’t remember the goodbyes being so difficult the first time I went as a full missionary. Perhaps as I age I have come to cherish each interaction so much more. I find that my love for each of them is deeper than I could imagine as we slowly part ways.
Saying goodbye to the stability of life here also brings a form of grieving. I am silenced as I say slowly say goodbye to my old State job, my Uber ministry to people God brings into my car, my home, my possessions, and even praising God every Sunday at my church family.
So my reflection today is on these goodbyes as they are weighing heavily on my mind. Luckily, many friends will continue to follow me in the years to come. I really rejoice in those ongoing connections. Each one is so special. For some of my dear friends, however, I will likely not see them again.
I think for me the biggest thing I do to overcome this feeling of loss is to focus on God and to spend time worshipping Him. After all, He is the one who will always be there with me…the One I never have to say goodbye to. Being a musical type, I like to spend time singing and acknowledging His power and love for us in song…even if it is in a hotel room, in a friend’s house, or in my car. (OK. I confess. I even got a ticket because I got so caught up in worshipping that I wasn’t paying attention! **blushes** Speaking from personal experience, you may want to watch that.) For me, there is something about the music that helps me see how God is with me every single step. Spending time in His word sure helps keep me grounded too. It always seems that God sends some appropriate verse to me at the perfect time. And let’s not forget just spending time talking with Him and laying all of my feelings in His hands.
The one thing that strikes me the most, I think, is that our God is so incredibly compassionate and loving. I mean, think about it…here is the all powerful God, Creator of the very universe, eternally wise, who brings order out of chaos and He cares enough about each one of us…people with all our flaws and imperfections…to hold each of us in His arms when we need it, to walk beside us, guide us and rejuvenate our soul. Seriously, how incredible is that? Like Isaiah says, it is so incredible the heavens and earth rejoice over it! Wow! I will never understand the sheer depth of His love for each of us. I, for one, am just humbled that He cares enough to be with me every step. There is just no way I could do it without Him. As long as I stay grounded in Him, I have all the strength I need.
”Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones”
”Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
”Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4