From Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders of the church to meet him. When they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the entire time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, enduring the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I did not shrink from doing anything helpful, proclaiming the message to you and teaching you publicly and from house to house, as I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus.
And now, as a captive to the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. “And now I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom, will ever see my face again. Therefore I declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
In today’s reading, Paul was “compelled by the Spirit” to return to Jerusalem where hardship and suffering awaited him. Despite the uncertainties of the future, he knew God was calling him to risk stepping into something new. I think we’ve all been “compelled by the Spirit” at one point or another. There are moments when we feel a ‘right-ness’ in our gut, and we know exactly what we ought to do.
However, unlike Paul, we often hesitate. We waffle and wring our hands. We find creative ways to avoid doing what is right: to stand up for someone in need; to forgive ourselves; to speak tough love; to let someone new into our lives; to take a new path or change our routine; to vulnerably ask for help. And yet the “Gospel of God’s grace” calls us to take action with great hope.
How is the Spirit compelling you to step out of your comfort zone here and now? What’s holding you back from taking that risk? Today, ask God for Paul’s courage.
Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If they listen to it and act on it, they give a great deal of what the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage to listen to your own goodness and act on it.