Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Good In Goodbye




Right now, they are eating together at the church building in Can Tho, Vietnam. I know because they are twelve hours ahead and I did the same for the past three weeks. There is always a transition period for me when I get back. Last night, only several hours off of the plane, I ran into one of my former students, Charles Crouch, at Taco Cabana and it took me a second or two to recognize him, something that would never normally happen. My explanation? I told him, "Sorry Big C but I was in Moscow this morning." When I've napped the past twenty-four hours, I've waken suddenly each time with fifteen seconds needed to be sure where I am. Those of you who've been through jet lag know the routine.

The hardest part of any mission is not the travel or the planning or the fund raising- it's the leaving. Over four Julys in Vietnam, I have grown extremely close to the church and its members. I've witnesses their growing physically and intellectually and most of all, spiritually. They are a fascinating blend of young Christians, most of whom are the descendant of one woman, Ket, who had eleven children and a life of grief but who became a Christian in her eighties, baptized in the same river where her husband was murdered. As I packed less than seventy-two hours ago, eight year old Ngan, one of Ket's numerous great grandkids, came in and watched me silently. I looked over and saw tears rolling down her face. At the risk of exploiting a child's emotions, I posted it on Facebook where it has received nearly 200 likes and close to thirty comments. It was a picture where the caption just got in the way.

I spent the better part of three weeks working with Vietnamese youngsters on improving their English speaking skills and we talked often about the meaning of words and phrases. We didn't get around to the etymology of goodbye but we should have. As you probably know, and they don't, it's a contracted form of the Old English, God be with ye. When I was a boy, we often sang Jeremiah Rankin's hymn, God Be With You (Till We Meet Again) which is reprinted below and includes several verses new to me. Written in 1882, it expresses so well the pain, but also the hopefulness of reunion with those we love. Lord willing, it will only be a year for me. 


God be with you till we meet again;
By His counsels guide, uphold you,

With His sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Refrain
Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.
God be with you till we meet again;
Neath His wings protecting hide you;
Daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Refrain
God be with you till we meet again;
With the oil of joy anoint you;
Sacred ministries appoint you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Refrain
God be with you till we meet again;
When life’s perils thick confound you;
Put His arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Refrain
God be with you till we meet again;
Of His promises remind you;
For life’s upper garner bind you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Refrain
God be with you till we meet again;
Sicknesses and sorrows taking,
Never leaving or forsaking;
God be with you till we meet again.

Refrain
God be with you till we meet again;
Keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
Strike death’s threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Refrain
God be with you till we meet again;
Ended when for you earth’s story,
Israel’s chariot sweep to glory;
God be with you till we meet again.


Applicable quote of the day:
“When someone you love says goodbye, you can stare long and hard at the door they closed and forget to see all the doors God has open in front of you.”
Shannon L. Alder


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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