How do you say goodbye?

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 3:2 ESV)

Ever since the fall of Adam, mankind has had to face the mystery and heartache of physical death. A loved one, a coworker, an acquaintance, a neighbor; we all know of someone who’s crossed over to the other side.

On December 12th, a dear friend left this old terra firma and was ushered into our Savior’s waiting arms. Actually, she was more than a dear friend; she was family. My brother’s wife, to be exact.

And man, it stinks!

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m glad she’s in heaven. I’m very glad she received Jesus as her Lord and had a hunger for God’s word. Now she’s right at home for all eternity, and has come face to face with the Living Word, Jesus.

But it still stinks!

It stinks for my brother (her husband), her children, grandchildren, family and friends.

I’m glad we had some time to tell her goodbye. Not much time, but some.

Though it’s not always easy to remember all the things you wish to say to somehone who has entered into the transition stage between physical death and the next life. I think it’s because at the time we’re so wrapped up in their pain and our own grief.

The physical loss of a loved one hurts. Plain and simple.

So I’ve been thinking…what’s the best way to say goodbye to someone who’s standing on eternity’s doorstep? If I had a list to remind me, maybe it would be a tiny bit easier to say what should be said.

Of course, we should reaffirm our love (if we, in fact, love them). They need to hear it from our own lips. Words of love do more than console; they are actual carriers of life, commitment, hope, and healing to their spirit.

Another way we can say goodbye to our loved one is to remind them of the beauty of heaven and the King. Read passages of scripture that describe the reality of their eternal home. Speak of the grace of God which made eternal life possible.

Here’s another thought we can so easily fail to grasp. The BEST way to say goodbye to someone (and I’m referring to someone who has received Jesus as the Lord of their life) is to say it KNOWING it’s only a short goodbye. Knowing that some day you’ll be saying “hello” once again.

Of course, it takes a certain amount of assurance for someone to speak in such a manner. But assurance isn’t hard to find, if one knows where to look.

“I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13 NLT)

“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:36 NLT)

God’s love is unconditional; there’s never been a person on this planet He hasn’t loved.

Yet His Heaven does have conditions, or qualifications, to meet if one is to enjoy eternity with Him and His.

Are the conditions hard to meet? Yes; in fact they’re impossible if we rely on our own strength, wisdom, goodness, or good works.

Can a person be so terribly rotten they’ll never meet the conditions? No, unless pride is their rottenness.

Heaven is for the pure. It’s for the righteous, the holy, the ones whose hearts have become new through faith in Christ.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:9 – 10:11 ESV)

So if you find yourself where I did the other day, and you don’t know how to say goodbye, think about these things.  If you aren’t sure about where the departing loved one is going, ask them. Share with them about the wonders of heaven and eternity with Christ.

If you don’t have an assurance in your own life about your place in eternity, now’s the time to take care of that matter. Don’t go another day without being connected to the family of God.

You, your loved ones, and, of course, God, will be glad you did.

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12 – 1:13 ESV)

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