“And now I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom, will ever see my face again. Therefore I declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to warn everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothing. You know for yourselves that I worked with my own hands to support myself and my companions. In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
When he had finished speaking, he knelt down with them all and prayed. There was much weeping among them all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving especially because of what he had said, that they would not see him again. Then they brought him to the ship. ~ Acts 20:25-38
It is difficult to put ourselves into the shoes (or rather sandals!) of Paul. Can we even imagine what his life was like?
His ministry lasted far longer than Jesus' did on earth, and the implications of it have echoed through two thousand years. We owe much to Paul.
We owe, perhaps everything to Paul. It is through Paul more than any of the other apostles, or anyone really since, that we have come to know Jesus.
Yes, certainly, the gospels give us Jesus' life, death, and resurrection; his teachings and his miracles.
But through Paul, we are told what Jesus' life, death, and resurrection mean.
And we see how the story of Jesus was spread far and wide.
Paul traveled approximately 10,000 miles in his lifetime of service. 10,000!! And that was mostly on foot (with a little bit of boat thrown in).
And because of that 10,000 mile journey, Christianity spread. Our churches exist today mostly because of Paul.
In that time, Paul formed relationships that were deep and yet he constantly was saying "goodbye." There was no stopping him. No putting down roots.
No clinging to friends and family. No wife or children. No place to call home.
What does our faith call us to? We can't all be Paul. Really, none of us can be Paul.
But what does Paul's faith tell us about service to the One True God? Are we ready to say "goodbye" to things and places and people when we are called to?
Holy Lord, lead me to the places in which you call me and give me the strength to say goodbye when I must. Amen