Goodbyes can be excruciating. Over the years, I have said goodbye to my children at nursery doors, elementary bus stops, college parking lots, and airport departure lanes. Will it ever get easier? My recent parting on an airport sidewalk leans towards no. Goodbyes bring clarity and focus to our thoughts, actions, and words. We want the last thing that rings in a loved one’s ear to be comforting. Goodbyes require us to keep short accounts. Farewell words should be filled with repentance and grace. I have also stood on sacred ground where last words and songs fill the air as a saint is ushered into glory. Last words draw us in and will profoundly shape us until we get Home.
The disciples were privileged to sit and have one final meal with Jesus in the upper room. In less than 24 hours, their friend will willingly lay down His life for them on the cross. This poignant reality leaves them understandably frightened, overwhelmed, and insecure about the future. John 13-17 contains Jesus’ farewell discourse. These last words give us His disciples’ purpose and mission, and our own as well.
As 2022 dawns, perhaps you can relate to the disciples’ troubled hearts. The pandemic has disorientated us. Relationships are dismantled through distance and disagreements. Jesus, our tender Father, has gone to prepare a place or Home for us. We must fixate on this trajectory as we walk each other Home. These words should not be addendums but central in our thoughts and actions. He already knows we will easily get distracted and discouraged, which is why He has not left us alone. We need a comforter, counselor, and Helper for each step of the journey.
Over the next several months, we will consider these last words at our annual Leadership Training and on the enCourage podcast and blog. You can download our free devotional, Abide in Me: 31 Days with Jesus in the Upper Room, to study with other fellow pilgrims. As you set off on this journey, you may want to pour yourself a hot beverage, grab your Bible, notebook, and a pen to consider these words and heart-penetrating questions as you prayerfully seek the Lord’s face as you step into a new year.
WASH: “…He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet” (John13:5).
- Are you resting in the truth that though your sins are like scarlet, they have been washed white as snow?
- Are you quick to repent and believe that if you confess your sins, He is faithful to cleanse you from unrighteousness?
- As you look at those He has placed in your life, how can you kneel this week and pick up a basin and towel to serve others?
LOVE: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
- How has understanding that Christ unconditionally loves you reorient your love for others? In what areas of your life will you seek to die to love others this week sacrificially?
- Do you currently have any broken relationships or unresolved conflicts in your life? How can you actively move towards loving and forgiving others?
PLACE: “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).
- What captivates your mind more, temporal or eternal things?
- What are two or three ways you can fix your eyes on Home and seek to live in light of eternity this week?
WAY, TRUTH, and LIFE: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
- Are you confused about how to move forward?
- What is your reference point for truth, the world, or His Word?
- Why are you drawn to lesser things to find abundant life?
HELPER: “He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16).
- Do you struggle with self-sufficiency and trying to live in your own strength?
- Are you seeking comfort and counsel from others before you seek it from the Holy Spirit?
ABIDE: “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
- Are you more inclined to strive and go or to abide and remain?
- Are you seeking to produce your fruitfulness or success or are you sourcing your vitally and life in Him?
JOY: “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
- Are you more reluctant or expectant in your prayer life?
- Does circumstantial happiness satisfy, or do you long for a life filled with eternal joy?
PEACE: “…in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
- What things cause you to feel weary or lose hope?
- Is your life characterized by peace (shalom): Peace with God, peace with others, and peace within?
ONE: “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:23).
- Are you living as a chief repenter?
- Does your unity with others shout to the world that the gospel is true?
To listen to the podcast series click here.
Click here for the free Abide in Me devotional.
About the Author:
KAREN HODGE serves as the Coordinator for PCA Women’s Ministry, where she seeks to connect women and churches to one another and to sound resources. She is also having the time of her life serving alongside her husband, pastor and best friend Chris. They have two adult children, Anna Grace Botka and Haddon Hodge. She is the host of the enCourage podcast and along with Susan Hunt, authored Transformed: Life-taker to Life-giver and Life-giving Leadership.