Acts 23:11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
The following two years of imprisonment in Caesarea were doubtless not what Paul would have chosen, but I’m sure the Lord’s words to him here helped him get through them, and the time following, much better. Assurance that we are in God’s will is a tremendous encouragement for any believer. From our perspective we can see that Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea allowed Luke to research and write the Gospel that bears his name, and the trials and hardships of the rest of Paul’s life allowed, even caused, him to write more of the letters that form half the New Testament, for the incalculable blessing of every generation since. We seldom know how the events of our lives are going to impact others, and there is no way we can know how that impact will resonate through succeeding generations. We don’t know the details of Paul’s testimony in Rome the way we do of this incident, but there were probably some of his hearers, even among the soldiers who guarded him, who became believers and left a spiritual legacy, just as there were perhaps members of the Sanhedrin who opened their hearts to the truth because of the situation recorded here. Every one of us needs to trust God with our past, present, and future, believing that He is going to use even our mistakes for good. (Romans 8:28) Someone has said that it’s like watching a Persian rug being made. In this life all we are seeing is a confusion of strings and knots, but when we get to heaven we will be able to see the other side, and the beautiful tapestry it became.
I need to remember this as much as anyone. At this point in my life I am thinking about my legacy, but I can rest assured that it will be as God intends, which is a very good thing. Faithfulness is called for, because I certainly don’t want to derail what God is doing. I have little if any idea what it will all involve. One of my favorite people in the Old Testament is Isaiah, and tradition tells us he went to heaven by being sawed apart! The life of Paul is an encouragement and comfort to me. It certainly wasn’t easy. He famously didn’t receive the healing he desired, but God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) That and other things enabled him to write, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) I don’t often think about the fact that those two passages are parts of the same letter! When Paul could leave the legacy he did with all he went through, I’ve got nothing to complain about!
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me indeed release everything to You and trust that You have Your good purposes for allowing it. Help me be proactive in obeying You, rather than having to repent of disobedience. The days ahead hold a great deal – and that is true with both potential meanings of that phrase! May I trust You enough to be totally obedient, so that the greatness of what You have planned may be manifested, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!