[From Jan. 16, 2015]
"But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door of effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries."
(1 Corinthians 16:8-9)
Paul traveled a lot. He set up numerous churches & faith communities. He visited, supported, encouraged, challenged, and made sure his prior groups were keeping the faith. He moved methodically through the Mediterranean region. But sometimes he felt like the Holy Spirit was guiding & directing his travel itinerary.
At the end of 1 Corinthians, he mentions wanting to stay in Ephesus through Pentecost. I don't know when in the year he wrote the letter... but he was clear about his time ahead (note: Pentecost was 50 days after Easter!). He mentions two interesting components: 1) he saw a "wide door of effective work" opening up (lots of great things to do in ministry!)... and 2) there were many adversaries amidst this work.
I'm at a place in my life & ministry right now that I can relate. I'm in my 15th year at Aiea UMC. Some say I've already stayed too long & should move on. Some say I've done what I've been able to do, and it's time for someone else to lead the congregation. Those may be true. However, I'm also quite excited about the work ahead, and what I feel God is calling me to still do here. I desperately want to help people grow deeper in their discipleship and in their relationship with Christ. It's also the first time in my 21 years of ministry that I've had a full-time associate pastor to work with. Great things lie ahead, I'm sure of it! But I have also experienced, for the first time, adversarial situations in my ministry.
Today's passage from 1 Corinthians has encouraged & reminded me to keep pressing on. Maybe it's a sign that I'm on the right track? I want to be open to whatever God is seeking to do with my life & ministry.