Most of us speak it several times a day without ever thinking of the origin of the word. In an ever so casual demeanor we issue the greatest of divine blessing upon all those from whom we depart. We may issue it in a letter or even in the course of terminating a conversation on the street. The word is the simple valediction of “Good-Bye”. Most of us may never even think about it, but the word is actually a contraction of the Middle English phrase God be with ye. It was originally shortened to Godbwye and subsequently evolved to the forms we know today as goodbye, or good-bye.
In any case we may never even have considered that we are casting upon that individual the greatest gift we could possibly proclaim of all in their lives, the presence of the living God. The entirety of Scripture communicates the greatest blessing in all of eternity is the enjoyment of God’s presence. Bet you didn’t know you were invoking such a high blessing in that simple phrase, the intimate, personal, relational quality of the Living God.
I am comfortable borrowing from Scripture the passage in Numbers 6:24-27, which invokes a three-fold blessing of God’s presence on any given individual. “The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace. So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.” Now that is the best, but perhaps a little too long to claim at every parting in our frenetic way of life.
But that’s what comes with the presence and nearness of the LORD, being enveloped in the glory of the Lord, a spirit of peace, a comfort and understanding of the Creator of the universe. What greater entreaty could you possibly claim for anybody than to enjoy God’s face being directed towards them, illuminating them, and protecting them? What better blessing is there than calling upon the Divine to give attention to their life? In short we are wishing that person would know God, have a relationship with God, or a maybe a better relationship with Him. That they would know the peace that only the Divine can yield. What we are really invoking is, “May you enjoy the intimate presence of the Eternal Almighty upon you, around you, and within you”.
So, in reality, there is no way we can proclaim the term, “Goodbye” with mal intent; it is a blessing that can only be issued with the cleanest of hearts, absent of malice.
So remember the next time you leave somebody, although there are many ways in which you can say farewell, whether it’s, “catch you later,” “Bye,” ‘Bye-bye,” “see ya,” “so long,” “ta ta,” “toodle-oo,” “later,” “TTFN,” “sayonara,” “ciao,” “adieu,” “adios,” or “cheerio,” just understand there is no higher appeal than, “Good-Bye.”
So there you have it…Oh, by the way, “Goodbye.”