Today, we said goodbye to our oldest sheep, Brie. Commonly referred to as our "angel sheep," Brie was the true example of loyalty, love, and sacrifice. When two of our lambs were abandoned by their mother, Brie took them in and cared for them even though she had her own to take care of. And when two more were abandoned a few years later, she mothered them again. She was always there, watching to be sure everyone was safe and happy. She was never irrational, but loved nothing more than a handful of grain and some time with her shepherd. And even though she was old, frail, and weak by the end, she kept her serenity and peace. It was hard to let her go, but we know that she's with her true shepherd, walking by His side without a limp, needing nothing more than His hand rubbing her head.
Saying goodbye is one of the hardest things in this life. Whereas other troubles may involve physical difficulties or material inconveniences, parting ways with people you love is something so much deeper. We know it's necessary, we know it's right, but it's still hard.
Maybe goodbyes are harder than most trials because they were never meant to be a part of our nature. In God's perfect kingdom, there was no death. There was no sin. There was no need to part. We caused the first separation by our disobedience. But God, who never intended for us to know what separation was, Himself provided the way to return to Him. Forever. Without a goodbye.
Have you thought about the beauty of that? With our faith in Jesus, we will never have to say goodbye to Him. Never. Not when we finish classes. Not when we go to college. Not when we retire. Not when we die. Everything else will come and go. Nothing will go past this life. But Jesus will always be there.
Maybe God uses goodbyes to bring us back to Him. Even though He gives us these friends to sharpen us, teach us, and comfort us, He can even use separation from them as a way to remind us of His eternality. Though our friends may love us, they can never be there every time. They will eventually fall short, just as we will for them. We cannot build our foundation on humans, even the closest ones to us. God wants us to lean on Him alone because He alone will never fail us.
We all have to say goodbyes. Maybe your goodbye right now is something much smaller than parting with our Brie. Maybe your goodbye is much bigger than losing a sheep. But no matter what it is, use it to take you to your Savior. Remind yourself of His love and don't let yourself depend on anyone but Him. Treasure each moment and each person you are given, but give them to God instead of trying to keep them for yourself. He can fill us up.
Brie, we will miss you. But we know God has used you in our lives. Even through tears, we know that you were with us for a reason. And we know that you are now gone for a reason. Well done, little sheep.