Updated: Nov 13, 2019
We come into this world certain that life is about one thing: me! Life is about us. Like you, I can’t remember the many times God has literally waved His finger over my pride, independence, and my unwillingness to do His will, especially when I stood to lose something I cherished. We say, “God, I will follow You anywhere, danger or not, as long as I am in control and have the right means of escape.” It has taken all my Christian life to break my habit of self-dependence.
We are a self-interested people, aren’t we? We want our will to be done. And suffering? We want nothing to do with it. But the man in our story, (Acts 21:1-16) says “Hello” to suffering! When Paul surrendered his will to God’s (Acts 9), this is what Jesus said to him: “You will suffer for My name’s sake!” So Paul had no illusions about following Jesus from the get-go.
Just before His departure, listen to what Jesus said to His followers: “In this world, you will have tribulation. But don’t lose heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Trouble is everywhere. Things break down, sickness takes our loved ones, we suffer in relationships, and, ultimately, we all die. But in Paul’s view, all of life’s problems made knowing Jesus more urgent. In fact, he went further: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18) So as Paul left his Ephesian friends and began his march to Jerusalem, he knew what awaited him: imprisonment. Yet, his faith made him ready to either live or die for Jesus. While God may not be asking you to die for Him, He is asking something more severe: will you live for Him, in, with, and through your suffering?
What happens in us and through us when we say yes is nothing short of the revolution that this world is waiting for. What happens when what you think just might kill you actually makes you more alive and more boldly reliant on Jesus?
Praying with you, Pastor Briant