I have never, ever been a fan of goodbyes. Whether these were the goodbyes you say at the end of a date, the end of your stint with your employer, the end of a school year, graduation, encountering many new friends and family on summer mission trips or friends moving away. I hate goodbyes.
Goodbyes are horrible.
Especially now, after experiencing my first permanent goodbye in this lifetime. There are times when you say goodbye. When people transition because God calls them into exciting, new Kingdom adventures, is that really a moment to say goodbye? Or, possibly, is it a moment to remember, celebrate and ask for favor, blessing and that wherever they are sent off to it “May be in (insert place here) as it is in Heaven”? Personally, I lead towards the latter.
We live in a world where I can hop on a plane be anywhere in the world in about a day.
How crazy is this?
We live in a society where the internet, cell phones and social media make me able to talk to anyone at the inclination of a moment. I do not have to wait. I do not need to say goodbye – to the relationship or friendship. However, I need to say goodbye to proximity and the season.
Occasionally God lines up the planets so you can experience relationships so powerful you are profoundly changed forever. Sometimes God places people in all the right places because only He can see the bigger picture of what is going on in the moment.
I looked at things with eyes of excitement; God looked at things through the lens of knowing what was to come. He knew my soul needed this man to become the person God has called me to be. I needed healing and life; I needed grace and truth; I needed time and voice; I needed avenues for God’s Spirit to flood me in new ways. As it turns out, I needed this mentor.
My relationship is not over with this Godly, dynamic, profoundly insightful, Spirit-powered, visionary leader and teacher. The three years I spent at his feet watching and learning have forever shaped who I am as a pastor, leader, teacher and disciple. His wisdom was not thumbed away, but received so it can be passed down yet again. His time was not wasted – I am a different man today then I was in the summer of 2009. I now get to pass the lessons he taught and equipped me with to someone else.
If he would have ever asked me to go jump off a bridge – I would have followed his request without thinking. If he asked me to think about an issue of my life, I may have fought back occasionally, but I always followed through – even in the painful moments.
He is a man, pastor, leader, teacher and visionary I hope to one day be. I have never encountered a man with an authenticity like his. I have never sat under a man who did not let his passion control him, rather he knew how to use every ounce of passion for the purpose set before him. I saw a man who faithfully, joyfully and sweetly loved his wife and son well – while faithfully pursuing God’s calling on his time. He is a man who loved the Bride well; He is a man who loved God’s sheep well; He is a man who knew he had to follow his Shepherd. Though he may be separated by mileage, I will always celebrate this man.
I would follow this man on a charge to storm the gates of Hades. Authentic leadership is profoundly influential and contagious. I will miss him more then I know, but I am also a different man because of sitting at this rabbi’s feet.
It is not goodbye.
It is fare well.
May it be in Chicago as it is in Heaven.