Posted by: mikenicholsblog | September 7, 2009

if you only knew

So little of our lives is known to us in advance.  We live moment by moment, day by day, maybe paycheck to paycheck.  And you’ve probably felt at times like you just wished you knew what was coming down the road a bit.  Maybe you are searching for a life’s calling.  Maybe you’re vacillating over a major life decision that is contingent on something else that is completely out of your control.  Maybe you are just the type of person that needs to know.

The book of Acts, and more specifically chapters 20 and 21, give us an amazing account of a sold-out servant of God who knew exactly what was coming in his life.  Within these chapters, Paul begins to face his certain fate.  His life, post-conversion, has been on a collision course with Jerusalem.  And the certainty of persecution, suffering and ultimately death.  Paul knows what’s coming, and makes a bold and clear declaration in Acts 21:13 …

Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping
and breaking my heart?  For
I am ready not only
to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem
for
the name of the Lord Jesus.” (ESV)

The Message reads …

But Paul wouldn’t budge: “Why all this hysteria?  Why do you
insist on making a scene and making it even harder for me?
You’re looking at this backward. The issue in Jerusalem is not
what they do to me, whether arrest or murder, but what the
Master Jesus does through my obedience. Can’t you see that?”

I love “you’re looking at this backward …”. Can’t you just hear Paul saying that?!  When I read that verse, I literally stopped.  And was overwhelmed with the reality of Paul’s sold-out dedication to the message of the gospel.  Especially in the face of his very real and certain fate.  He was walking a Jesus road.  A road that he shared with Stephen.  A trail blazed by his Lord, who also met His road with a full awareness of where it was leading to.  Christ did that for him (and for all of us), and Paul was doing it for Christ … and only Christ.  I feel in a place of amazing smallness and humility when I meditate on this.  Shaded by the immense shadow cast by a small man in service to the radiant Son.  I feel compelled, as I stand in this shadow, to put myself in a place of hypothetical substitution.  And ask, “Would I climb the foothills, knowing what I was getting into?”

In the midst of this question, there was another detail that struck me.  Namely, the topography of Paul’s road to Jerusalem.  To reach Jerusalem, Paul’s trip would involve a steep ascent.  How about the imagery of having to climb to his eventual fate?  Not a final shift into cruise control, but a downshift into four wheel drive to attain the height of ultimate sacrifice for the cause of Christ.

Standing at the foot of that hill, what would I do … What would you do, if we knew what we were getting into?

yeam_smaller


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