Time to Leave
Some of the hardest times in my life have come when I felt I had finally returned to the place where I was most qualified to serve. I was back with my people, the people who knew me from childhood. I had the right education with exactly what my people needed to hear. But then the Lord suddenly shut the door in this comfortable place and said, “Hurry! It’s time to leave.”
Only a few years after Paul’s Damascus road conversion and personal training with the Lord in the Syrian desert, he was finally back in Jerusalem, the place where he believed he was the most qualified to open hearts to the Gospel of grace. He was Jewish. This was the center of the Jewish world. They all knew him and would be the most likely to see the radical change Jesus had made in him. Of course, this was the audience he could read, but instead the Lord sent Paul away from his people.
“Now when I returned to Jerusalem, I was praying in the Temple and fell into a trance. I saw the Lord telling me, ‘Hurry! Leave Jerusalem right away because they will not receive your testimony concerning me.’ And I said, ‘Lord, they know that I’m the one who went from synagogue to synagogue imprisoning and beating those who believe in you. When the blood of your martyr Stephen was being poured out, I was standing right there agreeing with what they were doing and guarding the garments of those executing Stephen.’ He insisted, ‘Go, because I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” Acts 22:17-21
When I sit in a committee strategizing about how to reach a new group of people, it’s conventional wisdom to send someone from the target group. But God doesn’t always follow our conventional wisdom. In Paul’s case He took a radical, zealous Jew who spent most of his life not even being willing to eat with Gentiles and sent him out to spend his entire life trying to reach them for the Gospel.
LORD, thanks that your power can reach across cultures, nationalities, religions, and any other differences that divide us. I love it when you tell me to settle down like you did with Paul when he was in Corinth because the folks in the city will listen. It’s harder for me to obey when you tell me to hurry up and leave because folks are no longer listening to what I’m trying to tell them.
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