Imprisoned and afraid, but still ready
Just look at the way that Paul opens his heart to us. He is like a vulnerable little baby. Yes, this strong man sometimes became uncertain AND afraid: 20… telling the mystery to one and all, the Message that I, jailbird preacher that I am, am responsible for getting out.
What an example he was for all of us? We can actually learn a lot from this verse:
· Life is not easy for anyone and for Christians even less. Paul sacrificed his whole life to God. He went on dangerous journeys. He faced death. All for the sake of spreading God’s Word. So yes, I think it’s just fair that he should get an easy and pampered life. But that didn’t happen. If you put your hand up for Jesus there will be times that you will get much less than the shortest end of the stick.
I wonder if I’m really prepared for that …
· God calls ordinary people to do his work. Paul had no theological training and he never enrolled at a Bible school. But still God appointed him and in a way gave him in-house training. And the outcome? God’s Message spread through many countries.
God wants to use each of us like that. We just have to be faithful and take our appointment as messenger of God seriously and do what we have to do there where we are.
· Paul was honest about the circumstances in which he found himself. They were not good. It was a dangerous place and if you started talking about someone everybody saw as the enemy, chances were good you’d lose your head. Paul was just an ordinary person with ordinary needs and ordinary fears. But he believed in prayer. He believed that prayer would make a difference in someone’s life. He believed that our prayers for each other do make a difference and that God hears.
You may be afraid sometimes. Yes, sometimes the world is simply too big and too evil. Sometimes things become too much and we don’t know how to go on. Then we have to do what Paul did. Then we have to acknowledge the reality around us and realise that we are too small to stand alone against it. Then we have to ask the people around us to pray with us. Our prayers for one another do make a difference and God hears!
· Paul was not afraid to call a spade a spade. Most of the time that is the way it should be. If the message is softened, people may not always understand it. Sometimes you have to tell someone: Turn around or die. Yes, I know sometimes you also have to use a different approach.
I wonder where God’s Message would have reached if Paul held back and said he had had enough. What if he felt sorry for himself in that prison and stayed to lick his wounds? I suspect millions of people would’ve missed the point today.
How many people will miss out if we do not do our part?
I don’t want to make that calculation. Let’s rather do our part in obeying God’s command.
Are you ready?
What do you have to do?
Where do you have to start?
Father, I have to confess that I’m afraid sometimes. Afraid of life and afraid of lots of other things. Please help me not to be afraid to continue spreading your Word. Amen