Maybe it would be better to put it this way; I feel like Paul. I know my writing will never carry the same weight and although it is possible, I will most likely not end up in jail for my beliefs. I do not foresee public beatings, angry crowds attempting to rip me limb from limb nor do I anticipate martyrdom as the end of my story. Still, even more than my previous posts (I am Mary, Thomas, Samuel, Peter, Adam, Judas, The Rich Young Ruler ) I feel like I am Paul.
It has been a long road.
What seemed to be sure things evaporated. Opportunities that should have panned out turned into dead ends. The work I was blessed to be a part of was what I would call a success from a preparation and presentation standpoint but lacked any long term outcomes. It wasn’t failure but rather the fact that a clear path with clear outcomes seemed to be allusive. I am Paul.
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. Acts 16:6-7 (NIV)
I have tried to point out issues that needed attention.
It is tough to tell someone that their “baby” is not doing well. It is even more difficult to get them to listen. Unity in the church is to be the goal but not at the cost of Christlike behaviour and Holy Spirit inspired actions. Power struggles under the disguise of godly leadership declare war on those who would seek a better way, a truly Godly way that does not give into the bombastic to avoid the inevitable fight. I must speak but that doesn’t mean they must listen. I am Paul
My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 (NIV)
I have experienced the good and the bad.
Two and a half years of unsteady work preceded by an incredibly successful year of transitional work, preceded by unsteady work hampered by health issues preceded by a great run doing music, theatre, overseeing homeless dinner outreaches, preaching and many more ministry related projects. This long run-on sentence was created to say it has been a roller coaster, no wait, more like a plane hitting turbulence, out of control and unpredictable. With this wild ride comes all the financial rewards and woes something I wish on no one. Through all this I am learning to trust God, to be content, not quite there yet but the journey is closer to the end than the beginning. I am Paul.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)
There are days that I struggle.
All the messages I give from the pulpit, all the advice I offer to those who ask, all the writing I do and the content it contains, it all says what I think is the Godly way, the Christ honouring way. If you were to take all that I have said, all that I have instructed others to do and hold it up against my life, the way I live, I would be embarrassed. I know what is good, what is right in the eyes of God but I fail. No matter how hard I try I end up doing things I shouldn’t and not doing the things I should. I am Paul.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15 (NIV)
I say I am like Paul but can I say…
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes… Romans 1:16 (NIV)
Am I Really Paul?