As I was reading my Bible this afternoon, I ran across a statement that made me stop and take notice. I was reading in Acts 20. Paul was traveling to Jerusalem, and he was in a hurry. But trouble was waiting for him there. Here’s the verses I read:
“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.” (Acts 20:22-23)
My first thought was this: if trouble and hardships are waiting for you in Jerusalem, then why are you going? Why put yourself through something if you know in advance that it’s not going to go well? The answer is found in the next verse:
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. (Acts 20;24)
In spite of whatever was awaiting him in Jerusalem, Paul was still going because traveling to Jerusalem was Paul’s mission that his Lord had given him. Paul knew his mission… in detail. And his life was dedicated to bringing his mission to pass. Which raises a rather uncomfortable question for me. How intentional am I in bringing my life’s mission to pass?
This is a question that can be glossed over with little effort. But I believe doing so would squander a great opportunity to correct the tendency to drift along in life. I’m confident that I know the Kingdom mission that the Lord has given me: I’m a pastor, and my mission is to influence as many people for Christ, and to prepare my local congregation for heaven.
So what’s the issue? I’m not satisfied that enough of my day to day decisions, my thoughts, or my choices are bringing me closer to my “Jerusalem.” Instead, I break my life down into chunks of time, too often thinking thoughts like, “Man, if I can just make it to the weekend, things will slow down for a day or so. If I can only get my sermon written, or if I can get past this meeting, then I’ll have time to think about the future.” Thought patterns like these redirect our concentration from our mission to our circumstances. Paul’s circumstances paled in comparison to his mission.
Let’s be honest. Life is complex, and there are many worthy issues that we face on a day to day basis that need to be handled. However, this story reminds me that life’s mission is larger and wider than what happens this week or next. I can’t let the circumstances of today prevent me from keeping my eyes on the big picture.
Looks like I need to head toward Jerusalem…