Proud of your punishment
I was certainly not the best-behaved child at school! Some of the things I did really pushed the boundaries. There was that one debating evening when I let the air out of my Afrikaans teacher’s car tyres. My friends say more than one, but I can’t remember that!
What I do remember is that it was in the very first class that I first heard the principal calling my name, or rather roaring my name, over the intercom and not in a voice inviting me to a tea party. There wasn’t much talking in the office. Just six of the best – the very best.
Back in class I couldn’t sit very comfortably in my desk, but I did console myself with the thought that I did deserve it. Yes, you reap what you sow.
However, because of my track record of pushing the boundaries there were times when I got blamed for things happening in the school that I had no part in. And that was one thing I couldn’t take. Do not accuse me falsely. Then I screeched like a mad pig. I would take my punishment with a smile if I did wrong, but if it wasn’t me, I wasn’t prepared to stand in for someone else.
But that didn’t matter to Paul. He was sitting nonchalantly in prison, not that he had done anything wrong, and he is so blasé about it: 1In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel.
I picture myself in Paul’s shoes. I see myself start praying as I enter: Lord, I work as hard as I can for You and now this happens? I’ve done nothing wrong, but now I’m being treated like a big criminal. Just look at this. Water and a piece of dry bread. Is that what I deserve for my hard work? Really?
But Paul is calm. No, more than that: He lets it go. He realises that he is not seeing the bigger picture at the moment, which is fine, because he knows what looks like the end to us, is the beginning of new and bigger plans for God. I always wonder whether Paul would’ve written the letters that have so much value for us today if he hadn’t been in prison. Wouldn’t he have got on the next ship and travelled to another unsaved land to spread the gospel? Because that was his passion, you know.
Paul knows God is in control and with great pleasure he hits the curve ball that the world has thrown at him. He is not in sackcloth and ashes. No, he makes the best of his poor circumstances. He uses the time to write a letter that in the years long after he has been released from prison, and many years after his death still helps people to meet and really get to know God.
Paul is serious about his calling – he faces any curve ball being thrown in his direction and hits it back with a passion, because he knows and trusts God’s bigger picture, although even he can’t always see it. Even though it feels totally unfair sometimes and that he doesn’t deserve it, he keeps believing that God will turn the negative into a positive.
He may ask and challenge us to go and live our calling at all costs. Yes, we are confronted by the question: Is God proud of you? Is He proud of the way you are living your calling? Is He proud of the way you take your punishment, even when you don’t deserve it?
Is God proud of you?
Is He proud of the way you live your calling?
Is He proud of the way you take your punishment, even when you don’t deserve it?
O, Lord. I should hang my head in shame. Although I live in comfort, I am sometimes dissatisfied Sorry that I do not keep my stand. Sorry that I complain so much and do so little. I want to live your dream for my life. Amen