I am amazed at the determination Paul shows in his journey to return to Jerusalem. It has been a difficult trip, to say the least. He has already said goodbye to some of his dearest friends in Ephesus (Acts 20:s6-38), confident that he was never going to see their faces again. And now he’s saying goodbye to his friends in Caesarea. And they’re begging him to stay away from Jerusalem. They know bad things will happen to him when he arrives in the city.
But Paul was determined. He knew God had plans for him in Jerusalem. They might not be pleasant, but God was going to achieve His will through him. He knew it would be difficult. He knew it was breaking his friends’ hearts. The whole experience was breaking his own heart. He knew it could cost him his life.
But he also knew that God was going to be glorified. Somehow, some way, Paul’s trials were going to help the good news of Jesus Christ be spread unhindered throughout the world. So he knew he had to say goodbye. In hindsight, we see in these chapters that the light of Christ was shining through Paul when he spoke before the Sanhedrin. We know the light of Christ was shining in the Roman courts.
We know that wouldn’t have happened if Paul hadn’t said goodbye.
He had to say goodbye to his colleagues and friends in the churches he had helped plant. He had to say goodbye to whatever comfort he might have had. He had to say goodbye to anything that was keeping him from doing what God was calling him to do wherever He was leading him to go. In Paul’s case, this meant going to Jerusalem. In our own cases, this could mean going halfway across the world to help preserve families in the villages of Ethiopia. It could mean walking across the street and building a bridge with your difficult neighbor. It could mean giving away more of our possessions or giving up a relationship that is holding us back from following Jesus more closely. It might be something that’s good that we need to give up for something better. Saying goodbye can be painful. But it can also be a refining process that allows the light of Christ to shine even brighter.
What are you holding onto that’s keeping you from pursuing Christ more closely? Maybe it’s time to say goodbye.