After Two Years
26 April 2015
Reading: Acts 24; Psalm 96
After two years went by in this way, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison. (Acts 24:27 NLT)
Paul the missionary had become Paul the prisoner. His audience had been the world, now his primary audience was one corrupt Roman government official. This must have been very frustrating and discouraging for him. It reminds me of the two years Joseph remained in prison after interpreting the cupbearer’s dream (Genesis 40).
Did Paul struggle with thoughts like these?
• “I should have listened to Agabus and the others’ warnings about Jerusalem!”
• “I wish I was in Antioch (Or Ephesus, or Philippi, or Corinth, or anywhere but here!)”
• “It’s just not fair! God, I was only trying to do what I thought you told me to do!”
Whatever his thoughts and struggles as the days turned into months and the months into years, I believe that Paul was entirely present in the moment. I think he was present with the guards who kept him, the friends who visited him, and Governor Felix who called him in for conversations. I think it was during this time that the aging apostle realized his emphasis had to shift from pioneering new territories, to helping the churches grow strong and unified through sound teaching and gentle correction.
Thank God that Paul shifted from being a heroic missionary to becoming a wise and gracious father of the faith! Thank God that Paul shifted from traveling to writing! I believe that Paul focused not on “What I can’t do anymore...” but on “What I can do now!”
Sometimes God allows us to go through frustrating and difficult seasons so we will make changes and adjustments that enhance our effectiveness for his Kingdom. Attitude is pretty much everything during these seasons, don’t you think?
Father, Please feel free to choose my vocation and my location. When it’s up to me, I tend to choose what I like and what seems best to me at the time. I submit to your much clearer view of things. I need quite a bit of help to keep my attitude right when I’m going through one of these seasons. But you already know that! May it be unto me according to your will (and your timing). Amen.