Acts 18:18-22 (HCSB)
18 So Paul, having stayed on for many days, said good-bye to the brothers and sailed away to Syria. Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He shaved his head at Cenchreae, because he had taken a vow.19 When they reached Ephesus he left them there, but he himself entered the synagogue and engaged in discussion with the Jews.20 And though they asked him to stay for a longer time, he declined,21 but said good-bye and stated, “I’ll come back to you again, if God wills.” Then he set sail from Ephesus.22 On landing at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and went down to Antioch.
Do you ever find that in your regular Bible reading, you come upon the “next” passage in your reading plan and it is related to exactly what you’re going through at the time? Isn’t that weird?! It’s almost like God has this great plan…
Anyway, that’s the case for me in relation to the passage above. We often talk about the greatness of Paul…his soaring theology, his beautiful writing, his incredible success at church planting, even his courage in facing danger and challenges. But here we see something else: How utterly human he was. Read the passage above again. But think in terms of saying goodbye to friends and loved ones. There are at least three emotional farewells in these five short verses. I can imagine many hugs and tears.
Christine and I had to do this same thing this week. We gave our hearts and energy and love to the church and children in Kampala, Uganda. We weren’t there for long, but long enough for God to connect our hearts together. And then, much too soon, we had to leave. The rest of our Uganda team is leaving today, and pictures posted online show tears, embraces, and sadness. Paul discovered, as did we, that the gospel ministry is punctuated by both joy and sorrow.
And the only way one can find comfort in leaving is knowing that you leave those whom you love in the hands of loving, caring God. Upon our departure from Uganda, I found myself quoting the Apostle: “I’ll come back to you again, if God wills.”
Sad today, but glad to be home. Thanks for your prayers and support…