I have always loved reading Paul’s writings. Paul’s story, as exciting as it is, is a story of redemption in Jesus Christ and a testimony that no one is outside the saving grace of the Lord. It was said about him that he was ruthless in his pursuit to destroy the Christians, a religious terrorist they called him. Yet, by God’s saving grace he showed such a difference in his life that he was persecuted beyond what we could comprehend. During the latter part of his life he was imprisoned many times, so many that it was said he spent up to almost six years in prison altogether. He was shipwrecked three times, stoned, beaten with rods, and whipped.
I am particularly struck by verses 22 to 24. Paul mentions that he was compelled by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem knowing that the chances of hardship and prison were probably waiting for him. He went anyway. He went because to him his life was worth nothing. What was worth something was to finish the race and complete the task that Jesus had given him. You see he went because being compelled means being driven beyond our capacity to resist the leading prompted by the Holy Spirit. He followed the leading of the Spirit.
I am sure that Paul was hesitant. This was his third missionary journey, he had experienced hardships that I am guessing he really did not want to experience again. He went anyway. He was compelled. I wonder would I do this, having been compelled by the Holy Spirit to go somewhere knowing I will be dealing with hardships and prison? Would I go? I would hope I would. I think I live a life that is being directed by the Holy Spirit, yet I also know I have often hesitated in certain situations. Thinking it would be too difficult, or I somehow just cannot see how that would work out. I feel like they are good reasons, yet sometimes I wonder if my reasons are just excuses.
I want to leave you with this, Is the spirit compelling you today?
Are we open to what he is calling us to without any excuses?
Let us all surrender to him as he leads and directs our life. Let us finish the race and complete the task Jesus has given us. The task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace, with no excuses. Let’s live a life that is turned upside down because we have Jesus in it.