The ship Paul was sailing on made three stops before it finally docked for seven days in Tyre. When it did, Paul and Luke and the others traveling with them “sought out the disciples” and stayed with them. There is no mention of Paul preaching in the synagogue or in the streets, though he may have done that. What Luke emphasizes in this section is not seed-sowing, but relationship-building. Paul was strengthened on this difficult journey by the fellowship he shared with other believers. So are you and I. God made us for relationships and when we are in right relationship with Him, He puts us in relationship with others. That’s why John wrote, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
When it was time for the ship to sail again, the whole group of disciples walked with Paul and the ministry team to the shore. It was a family-integrated prayer service as men, women and children knelt on the beach and prayed with Paul and the team. And then they “said farewell to each other.” It is a simple truth, but a significant part of our growth as people is learning how to say both hello and goodbye, and to do it well. Relationships matter because every person is precious to God. We are made in His image, not “made” in His image. Our countenance communicates clearly. We are also made in His image, not “afraid” in His image. A friend of mine told me the story of taking a man from his church on a mission trip to Africa years ago. The man would not shake anyone’s hands, and he wore gloves during the whole trip. He also wore a surgical mask.
Let’s learn to greet one another with at least a smile and a hello. Not a grunt, or even worse, a turned-up nose. A few weeks ago when Cindy and I met with several young couples to talk about marriage, we confirmed to them what they already knew: One of the things that communicates to both a husband and a wife that they are loved is when they are greeted with warmth and a smile when they come home from work. It’s true in marriage and it’s true in any relationship. We love to be greeted with a smile and hear our name called when we’re not in trouble.
It’s also important to learn how to say goodbye. Did you know that a group of German researchers discovered that a husband who kisses his wife each morning when he leaves for work lives longer? And men who kiss their wives before leaving have fewer automobile accidents on their way to work than men who do not kiss their wives. Not only that, but the good-morning kissers miss less work, and earn 20-30 percent more than non-kissers do. So, kiss her, men! And young people, this applies to you, too. Greet your siblings with a smile (probably not a kiss) and a warm hello, and you may be amazed as you watch the relationship grow. Greet your parents with a warm smile and a hello and they will be amazed even more, maybe stunned. You may even need to use smelling salts the first time you try this.
Let’s practice good hellos and goodbyes. We never know which time we say goodbye will be the last time we get to say anything at all.