Last night my family said goodbye to my younger brother, Rich, his wife, Julia, and their son, Justus. Families normally say goodbye a lot and most are casual because there are always many “hellos” that are around the corner. This goodbye was different though. Rich and his family are moving to Germany…for good. It’s been a process of 7 years since the time they recognized the call of God in their lives to go to Germany and help plant churches until now.
Last night we gathered around the table one last time to share stories that we’ve all heard, but are always hilarious. We ate. We laughed. We cried. And we prayed. Last night, I have to admit, was an emotional night for me. Rich and Julia aren’t going to be there for Christmas’ and Thankgivings. They won’t be around for family birthday parties and vacations. There’s really no word to describe it but simple sadness; sadness of future missed memories with them.
But in the midst of the sadness of certain moments last night. There was palpable joy.
Joy was there because we knew God was behind all of this. The call of Jesus to make disciples of all people in all nations is as powerful today as it was almost 2,000 years ago. And when we see someone go, there is joy. There was joy because my 3 children saw Scripture come to life last night. Jesus says in Matthew 10:37-39, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
As we shared our hearts again with Rich and Julia, I turned to my kids and told them through tears that it’s okay if they go. I never want them to love me and our family more than the call to follow Jesus. I had to give my kids away again last night to Jesus. There will probably be many more times I have to do it in the future as well. I’m joyful today though that my kids saw Matthew 10 come alive last night in their living room.
Last night, as I reflected on the change that is happening to our family, there was one more thought that brought joy to my heart. Last night’s goodbye is only temporary. The future of eternity in God’s Kingdom far out-weights the temporary time here on earth. The time apart here on earth for my brother’s family and the rest of the Rudolph clan will be a finger snap compared to eternity. So in reality, we are not going to lose memories, we will gain more through each of us following Christ’s call to go make disciples.
One day I may have to see one of my kids off to an airport and wave goodbye…for good. If it ever happens, I’ll certainly be sad, but I’ll also be filled and overflowing with joy. Thanks Rich and Julia for counting the cost…and going.