“So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. 32 The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. 33 When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34 The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will hear your case when your accusers get here.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.” Acts 23.31-35
Paul was under extreme persecution. The Religious Jews in Jerusalem wanted to kill him. Using his Roman citizenship in his favor, Paul was not only spared death by the Jews, but escorted with almost five hundred Roman soldiers to Herod’s palace in Caesarea, an ancient port along the shore of the Mediterranean where the Romans had one of their major ports.
Paul went from death being close at hand, to an armed escort for his protection. God’s providence was upon Paul. No matter what was happening around him, God had a plan and a purpose for his life. Nothing could hinder his going to Rome where he would take the Gospel to the largest stage he had ever known.
It makes me wonder about my own story, not nearly as significant as Paul, but hopefully useful to the Kingdom nonetheless. If I truly believe in God’s providence, then I must trust that God has been and is leading me, and you as well. Our stories matter to God. Whether or not we follow His way, God has a plan for each of us. He wants us to be in relationship with him. He wants to call all people into the saving grace with our Lord Jesus Christ.
As I reflect, however, on how he has guided me in specifically bringing hope and life to a stumbling and struggling denomination, in the past twenty years, I have evidenced thousands of people giving their lives to the Lord. I have seen hundreds respond to a call to ministry and being built up in that call. Many of those serve as pastors in god-fearing churches today. Impacting hundreds and thousands of lives in turn.
Now I certainly do not take credit for this success. I am but a keeper of the door in the house of the Lord. And yet, God uses us as his instruments. He doesn’t use and discard us as the devil would, God involves and empowers us. He invites us to be co-creators with him in scattering seeds, tilling the ground, and witnessing the harvest.
When I get down on myself and my own ministry’s success or lack thereof, I must remember that God’s providence is upon me. He chose me (and you), he called us by name, he is working even when we think we have nothing left to give.
The Good News touts that God is with us. He is not only with the holy, but those yet to be made holy. He is not only with the preachers, he’s with the prostitutes. He’s with all people working towards his good and drawing them to himself. Just as God was with Paul, leading him toward his purpose and destiny, so he is with us.
So take heart. You are not alone. Do not be afraid. The Lord who created heaven and earth made you as well. And when he did, looking upon your fragile frame of flesh, he called it good. You matter to God. So keep your chin up. Look to the heavens and know that your Redeemer lives.
“O Lord God, after a wonderful inspiring tour to England where I witnessed the birth of Methodism, and what happened when two brothers full of faith began to seek you in earnest, I now sit alone in the country, quiet and content. I give thanks for who you are and what you have done and are doing in me. To be a keeper of the door is all I desire. To know you and to be made known to you. Not to rely upon my strength but on your sovereignty and your Spirit. I love you Lord and praise your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen