Paul had been arrested by the Jews and thrown in prison for a couple years. Must have been difficult. After a few years the governor died and a new guy, Felix, took over. Felix left him in jail for a while until Paul was brought before him to present his case. At this point Paul appealed to the Supreme Court of Caesar. Felix seemed interested in him because when his buddies Agrippa and Bernice visited he got Paul to talk before them too. Agrippa also seemed very interested. Paul was then sent off to the Supreme Court in Rome. Agrippa then told Felix that had Paul not applied to the court in Rome he would have been set free! We know according to history that Paul was eventually killed in Rome! What an amazing unfortunate slip of judgment Paul made, eh? Though perhaps not. I wonder if Paul ever regretted appealing to Caesar. I wonder if he was ever kicking himself while he sat in prison thinking about how much wonderful ministry he could have accomplished had he just kept his mouth shut. So what was God doing? Why did he allow his star Apostle to slip up like that and miss out on so much ministry potential? He might have made it to Spain like his dream always was had he gotten out of jail. What was God thinking? Perhaps God was thinking that jail was good for Paul. God has priorities that are way different from ours. God is not always concerned with our ministry goals or strategies. He’s concerned with the hearts of his children. While in prison Paul was put through a refining fire. He was tried and tested and found worthy. God said, ‘If prison will help Paul grew in the grace and knowledge of Christ, then to prison Paul will go.’
A few thousand years earlier David was in a tough spot. His new boss was constantly insulting him and trying to kill him even while David was trying to serve nicely. While on the run David knew that the kingdom would eventually come to him, but not yet. Time and time again David was put in a position to remove his stresses and take the kingdom for himself. Think of the amazing possibilities! He could usher in a new ear of godliness and bring the people back to heart-felt worship to the living God! All he had to do was stretch out his hand and take out the godless man standing in his way. One problem. The godless man was God’s anointed. God put Saul where he was and David could not imagine doing harm to a vessel of God. So he decided to hang out in his cave and wait until God took Saul out himself and gave the kingdom to David. So Dave sat in the cave and was refined. Eventually Saul was put to open shame and David was given the kingdom, a cleaner heart and a pure conscience.
I’m having a very difficult week, maybe I’ll tell you why later. These two stories remind me of a few important truths that if I actually grabbed onto with my whole heart I might be given peace:
– God’s goals, though not always fun, are always good for me and will always come to pass.
– My dreams, however nice and noble and godly they may be, are not always the will of God, neither are they always a good idea.
– The difficult people and situations in my life will always tend for my good so long as I love God.
– It is not for me to take matters into my own hands; I’m not nearly smart or righteous enough to do that.
– The hardest times in life are the most sanctifying. Paul wrote his best letters and David penned some of his best songs while in the furnace.
– The crap can last a long time. Dave and Paul were in the fire for years before release. And Paul’s release came in the form of a sword.
– Joy comes in the morning.
Pray for me.
As this post was written last week the stresses herein are tamed down to normal, but pray for us anyway, can’t get enough of that stuff!