Acts 21:1 “When we had torn ourselves away from them and set sail, we ran a straight course and came to Cos, and on the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara”
New chapter except the heart is in the previous one. You see both groups were in anguish over the separation. It wasn’t only the Ephesian elders who were hurt over the separation. It was ‘we’; Paul, Luke and the team. It is sometimes so painful to keep moving ahead, to let go, to say goodbye.
In my earlier years of being a pastor I would spend long hours with members who wanted to attend a different church and not mine. I would do all I could to keep hold of them. I wanted to see a church being built and losing people was not the right way to go about it. They would always tell me not to take it personally, that this had nothing to do with me, I think they thought they were bringing me some comfort. It was like going to the butchers and saying “I won’t be shopping here anymore but don’t take it personally, it’s not you, it’s your meat.” The leader and the church are connected in every way. I lived, breathed, ate, slept God’s church, this was not a job 9-5, this was my life and it still is, I couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t take it personally.
But what I really hadn’t grasped at that stage was the truth that some people will only be with you for part of your journey.
There are those that you have to walk away from. There are times when you have to say this:
“I cannot stand around here waiting for you. I cannot stand around mourning my losses, reliving my past and what we could have had. I’ve got to return home. I’m becoming all that I can become and I can’t do that by regretting the past and wishing I had what I once had.”
There are those who will have to walk away from you. Jesus experienced the same thing.
At these times you have to say this:
“This is who I am, and this is where I am. I’m becoming all that I can become and if you walk away from me then that’s fine. If you don’t like me anymore, if I no longer fit into your personal agenda of what you want. If I am not being the person you want me to be and you don’t want my friendship then I release you to go. I realise you were only there for part of my journey.”
It is the same approach even when people want to follow you but for a very good reason they cannot come.
So I have learnt to:
1. Be thankful for the moments that God has brought people into my life.
2. Realising it might only be for a season do all that I can to love them.
3. Keep healthy memories of them and discard the rubbish. Talk well of them.
4. Bless them and don’t bully them to follow, release them to fulfil their own plan.
5. Don’t grow a thick skin in the new chapter; be flexible, open and transparent.
Luke says they had torn themselves away. Today you may carry a tear in your heart, a longing for those people in the past that you loved and walked with. Smile and keep moving forward, there is more to come!