So life goes on. Our best life today includes spring planting, caring for baby chickens, helping children plan the end of the college year and summer. With or without us, life goes on.
In my chronological read through the Bible (which started in January of 2017), I'm finishing the book of Acts. Honestly, I have so many thoughts and questions--and have stopped to take a closer look at this and that that it's taken a bit longer than anticipated.
As I read back and forth between the book of Acts and the Pauline Epistles, I began wondering who this "we" is that popped up regularly. Of course Luke is referring to himself as he travels with Paul, but there are others as well--people I'd never taken the time to notice. So I backed up the bus and, beginning in Acts 13, created my own catalogue of Paul and company on their missionary travels. I'm wrapping up chapter 28 and have been encouraged by a number of truths:
- Ministry, even individual ministry, includes an ebb and flow of others. It is not wrong or bad for people to come and go, but it is natural. I am only responsible for where I am and who I am with now, today.
- Ministry is a group project. Whether people are praying, giving financially, spreading the Word, coming for healing and grace, or working alongside one another making tents or teaching, we're in it together. God is using each and every individual, sanctifying them in and through their part.
- I can trust God with the unknowns of life. Sometimes Paul was in a place for a short period of time, at other times he was there for months or years. Paul made decisions based on circumstances, what he thought was best, God's intervention, communication from others, the needs of others. He was flexible and willing to do whatever, whenever. One thing that did not motivate Paul's plans was fear. Safety. Yes. Fear? No.
- When God wants you to go somewhere or do something (like Rome), nothing can interfere--not a 2 week storm on the sea, or other's intentions to kill you, or shipwreck, or a poisonous snake bite. Even if it's a hard, life-threatening situation, God's provision in and through the difficulties is encouragement to persevere. So I can look for His guidance in the hard times--and not be discouraged.
Those are just a few takeaways before I head up to sort and clean my mother-in-law's empty apartment. I'm so thankful for the richness and truth in God's Word. Perhaps you, too, will be encouraged as you run the race God has put before you.