As a parent, I am moved by the Apostle Paul’s tearful farewell to the elders of the church at Ephesus (Acts 20:17-38). The Ephesians are saddened, of course, at the prospect of never again seeing their teacher and spiritual father this side of eternity. For his part, Paul says goodbye to his flock in full awareness of the agonizing challenges that await its members. He reminds them of the God-honoring personal example he set and commends them “to God and the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
God and His Word. These are not only sources of strength as we grow spiritually in this life of service to our Lord and Savior but also objects of hope as we look—often through tears of suffering—to the coming of His glorious kingdom.
This bittersweet moment on the shore of Ephesus strikes me as a picture of parents taking leave of a child about to embark on a life of her own. It is not an exact picture . . . but edifying still. It speaks to the most valuable gifts we can give to our children as they grow into maturity and independence. In the short years they are under our care, we can instruct them in the truths of the gospel and provide an example (albeit a flawed one) of a life lived in the grace-infused light of those truths. We, as parents, can point them to the source of true strength and the object of imperishable hope . . . in very powerful ways . . . if we are diligent.