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Tense Beginnings

We all love a movie or a good book when it starts with a tense beginning. I just started a new novel called, The God Hater by Bill Myer. In the first few pages an atheist professor shames a god-fearing author on a talk show, gets abducted by a taxi driver, and is threatened with harm if he doesn’t reveal the location of his brother. It is intriguing and has my curiosity stirring wondering what is going to happen next. I love it when it happens in a book but I don’t really enjoy it when unexpected difficulty takes place in my life.
It is my goal, however, to learn to see past the beginning. One of the main themes in the Bible is that difficult moments are often the introduction to some of God’s greatest work in our lives. Acts 21 begins innocently enough. Paul is in Jerusalem where many Jewish believers are concerned about what he is teaching Jewish inhabitants throughout the Gentile world. He decides to participate in a purification rite with four other men (v. 18-26). His goal was to calm down any fears that might hinder his continuing effectiveness.
Then things took a dramatic turn. “When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, shouting, ‘Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place’” (v. 27-28). It wasn’t true but it didn’t really matter. “The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut” (v. 30). For his own safety, he was arrested by Roman soldiers who assumed he was “the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists . . .” (v. 38). Up until now, there is not much good news. It looks as if Paul is going to be the victim of mob rule and it does not appear that God is coming to his rescue.
Looking back, we know this is the beginning of one of Paul’s most effective seasons. I don’t know how he could have known that in the midst of the difficulty but history has proven it to be true. Paul was a man of action. Even in the midst of his arrest, he wanted to talk to the crowd and either straighten things out or use this as another opportunity for evangelism. He would never think to sit down for long periods of time and write. He would never entertain the strategy of being confined to one location for years so that he could put down on paper the truths that would impact every generation to follow. His mindset was to go and get things done. This tense beginning resulted in an arrest followed by a trip to Rome to appear before Caesar. During his confinement, he wrote Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians. It also appears there was a maturing and softening that took place. After his release he wrote Hebrews, Titus, First Timothy, and Second Timothy. Hebrews is his deepest work and the letters to Titus and Timothy are very personal and obviously aimed at grooming younger men to carry on the work. Paul even reveals a change of heart toward John Mark who defected during the first missionary journey but in his later years proved to be “helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).
Life will never be the same because Paul was arrested. I can only hope for the grace to keep my eyes focused on God and His plan when the unexpected difficulties hit my life.

One Response

  1. I hope that I’m not making a fool out of myself but if I do, at least it’s safe under the protection of the Almighty God. It is 0145 am and I can’t seem to find rest in a good night sleep, so I tossed and turned and even woke up my husband just enough for him to fall right back to sleep knowing better that he needs his sleep when the alarms go off for the both of us to get up and do Physical Training (PT) for our great Army. I decided to read because like any other times, at some point I’ll get tired and fall back to sleep. “Why men and women act the way they do” is one of the books that I hope would touch my messed up marriage and magically put it together, after I read it of cause since it only sat on my night stand for a year now. However, I’ve allowed the business of life to prolong my reading adventure and I’m ashamed to say that its been over a couple of years now since I bought this book on sale $4.99 at the Army & Air Force Exchange store. But one thing I’ve realized, is that when I finally get to reading something- it would be at the perfect time for my current situation (thank you Jesus). Now, they only put books up on sale at our AAFES if they are pretty old or damaged and since it wasn’t damaged, it left me with one conclusion. So I wanted to prove my belief in the bible again that God’s word will remain after all else are gone, which also includes His Inspirations in His children’s teachings because I could have sworn that I heard some of the same concepts in another person’s teaching. I googled the authors and lo’ and behold, this is what I stumbled over, what a worthy loss of sleep. My spirit awakens because I just had a heart to heart conversation with God yesterday but it was all one way up from me. And now as I read your Post, I’m receiving it as if He had just responded directly to me with my name written all over it as a respond to my one way conversation yesterday. Through you, just reminded me that the pain that I am going through can only support the mighty strength of the work that He has planned for me. Thank you for being His vessel and thank you Jesus for seeing me beyond my mess. God bless!!! I hope to have an opportunity to come and hear you speak in OR, for we are stationed out of JBLM.

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