It's easy for war veterans and their families to identify with Paul's farewell remarks to church elders in Ephesus.
Being away from a loved one is bad enough; however, the prospect of never seeing a loved one alive again can shake faith to its very foundations. The loss is even more traumatic if there is unfinished business between two people.
Paul gained peace by sharing his final thoughts and feelings with the elders.
As we examine Paul's words of closure, perhaps we can gain insight on how to find closure with our friends and loved ones.
Paul first wanted to say that his life had been worthwhile. He obviously had plans to travel and preach in other places. However, if he never got another chance, his life had been worthwhile and rewarding.
He anticipated his death, largely because of his courageous ministry in the face of extreme opposition. In spite of all the dangers, threats and physical punishment, Paul said it had been worth it all.
Can you say that your life has been that worthwhile? Sure, there are areas you probably wish could have been better, but have most of your years brought a sense of accomplishment? Are the places you have lived a bit brighter and more like the kingdom of heaven because you lived there?
In trying to prepare the people for his death, Paul warned the elders of dangers to the church. He told them to maintain the church's unity and commended them to God's keeping.
If Paul was saying farewell to us today, I believe he would include these thoughts:
"Make the most of your days by utilizing your God-given talents in sharing the gospel by word and deed and in making the world at your doorstep a better place to live, work and play. When the time comes to pass on to glory, you can say your farewells with fewer regrets and with a smile on your face."
You will be ready to begin the most grand adventure of all: living in the presence of the Lord, the saints and all of your friends and loved ones who have preceded you. The Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures forever. Thanks be God!"
Dr. Gene Norris is a Presbyterian pastor who serves as a family therapist.
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