One of my favorite biblical figures is the Apostle Paul. His story fascinates me. It’s filled with so many twists and turns. It’s unpredictable. What you expect to happen to him NEVER happens! It makes me think of how we sometimes view our own lives. We have timelines filled with joyful milestones and ends happily ever after. We forget the Author of our stories pens no two stories the same but rather chooses characters with flaws and traits that we deem unattractive or undesirable and uses them to accomplish His will. It doesn’t look pretty at first glance. With deeper insight and loss of selfish desires a greater story reveals itself.
I can relate to the apostle Paul. His story in the book of Acts tells of an educated, zealous, and passionate young man. His passion for persecuting Christians was so extreme he earned a reputation that struck fear in the hearts of followers of the Way. How deep must a man’s hatred run for a cause that he would hold the coats of those that stoned an innocent man to death while looking on with pleasure and consent? Reading Paul’s story I often wonder about what he must have been thinking on his way to Damascus before encountering Christ. Was he thinking about his career path? Perhaps wondering what was the magic number of Christians he needed to tyrannize in order to receive a promotion. Maybe he was daydreaming about how quickly he would advance in life like many of us do today and calculating how to achieve his next set of goals. Nevertheless, his plans were aborted and replaced with more rewarding ones after a transforming ordeal.
The man who turned the world upside down in his pursuit of annihilating the spread of the Gospel would turn the world upside down again in the quest for sharing it to the ends of the earth. His transformation after encountering Jesus was so drastic and unique no one knew what to make of him. He preached the Gospel with intensity and devotion. Yes, one of the greatest persecutors of the early church was now its biggest promoter. Was this the life Paul dreamed for himself? A life full of rejection, stoning, beatings, imprisonment, and suffering. One without comfort, riches, and ends in a violent death.
Sometimes we can look at our lives and become discouraged because they don’t resemble our dreams. I admire the apostle Paul because he rolled with the punches. Jesus said this about Paul, “…he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. “ The zeal and commitment Paul exhibited as an apostle was genuine because he was living the dream. He was fulfilling his purpose in life. His testimony was shared numerous times and carried him places he may have never travelled to before his conversion. His experiences shaped him into a mighty missionary. Debates only fueled his drive for sharing truth and dispelling myths. He lived a life of uncertainty but was secure in his faith and belief in the resurrected Savior. He surrendered himself completely to God to be used for His glory.
Paul’s story may sound daunting to you but He says this about the life he lived, “And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Paul’s satisfaction was found in obedience to the will of God. Life is filled with uncertainty. Roll with the punches. Be passionate. Give it your all. Live! Fulfill your life’s purpose. It’s one of life’s greatest rewards.
Acts 20:22-24 “22 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (NKJV)
Acts 9:15-16 “15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (NKJV)
Acts 14:22 “…We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (NKJV)