“Goodbye” belongs to hell.
I thought this as I watched my daughter’s car roll down the drive and disappear into the fog this morning. I thought it as I endured actual pain while the cord stretched and strained between my heart and my girl.
I suppose she was about twenty miles onto the turnpike before the cord just outright snapped in resignation. I released a sigh of relief and turned my mind to things nearer for a moment. But my heart was still heavy.
Goodbyes are horrible. They hurt. If hello travels eastward; goodbye surely flies west. And this life on earth seems to me to be teeming with nothing but goodbyes.
A favorite doll packed away into tissue paper and placed in the cedar chest.
The last day of the school year with its empty, lifeless chairs and desks.
The cold brick cell of a college dorm room, stripped bare.
A packed suitcase by the front door.
The parking spot left empty by a new retiree.
A drifting, dried-out maple leaf.
But then there’s Christ…and I turn around at His whisper.
An empty tomb.
A spring bud unfurling for the sun.
A newborn opening his eyes toward the future.
An unpacked suitcase and shoes tossed by the door.
A furnished dorm room ready for growth and learning.
The first day of school with the smell of sharp, new crayons and white paste.
And a sparkly, bright red ribbon taken off the newly opened present of life.
If the earth teems with goodbyes—which it does—heaven most certainly abounds with hellos.
Because of Christ.
I can choose the direction I look and the place where my mind settles. The Bible provides kind guidance in this matter as the Spirit, through the Word, admonishes us to look up and to look ahead. We are advised to avoid looking back. There’s no need to dwell on our goodbyes, because they belong to this earth, which is passing away. They are not worthy of our attention.
Surely the reason the Lord felt a need to address this matter is because He understands that we walk this earth with all its goodbyes. He knows the fleshly temptation to let our minds remain on our sorrows. But the truth is that real life is in heaven with its abundance of hellos, and we can settle our hearts there. We don’t need to grieve or look back.
We are encouraged to remember this. Encouraged to dip in and borrow for today some of the joy that He knows is coming quickly and surely into our future—joy we can experience through faith now, but will enjoy in reality there, when we see Him face to face.
David cried out, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help” (Psalm 121:1 KJV). He had learned the futility and even foolishness of looking behind into the shadows at all the goodbyes. He had learned to look up and to look ahead to the abundant hellos waiting to greet him.
It just might be a good idea for us to do so too.
Written By Becky Coursen
Photo by Annie Spratt