Saturday, April 18, 2009

Be brave. Have courage.

"That night the Lord stood near (Paul) and said, 'Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.'"
(Acts 23:11)

Paul is in trouble. He knew it would be dangerous coming back to Jerusalem. In fact, everyone connected to Paul warned him about what might happen there (especially since the Jewish leaders were so upset he'd left their fold to follow Christ!). He's been arrested on trumped up charges, imprisoned and abused. But his confidence has not wavered (at least it seems that way on the outside).

That night, while in custody, God comes to visit Paul. What's interesting to me is what God says to him. Short message. Not really that inspirational. He doesn't say, "Everything's going to be okay, don't worry." He doesn't say, "Fear not! I'll protect you!" He doesn't even say, "I'll be your strength." No, God says, "Keep up your courage! You're going to have to do this all over again in Rome." Maybe that's just what Paul needed, though.

Be brave. Have courage. Not exactly what we expect to hear from God in times of crisis. But God had a plan and knew how Paul would continue to be an instrument of the Kingdom. Others needed to hear his testimony in Rome. Be brave. Have courage. Might that be a word of us today, too... especially when we're in crisis? Instead of looking for God to "bail us out" or "keep us safe," maybe we need to be asking God for more courage. Wow... definitely worth pondering.

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