17 February 2019
Reading: Numbers 1-2; Acts 24
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 really frustrating and discouraging for Paul. It reminds me of the two years Joseph remained in prison after he interpreted the cupbearer’s dream (Gen 40-41).
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 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 focus must shift from pioneering new territories, to strengthening and unifying churches 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 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? Have you experienced a season of frustration and limitation? Ask God to help you see the opportunities in the present moment…
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 broader and 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 to me according to your will (and your timing). Amen.