Acts 21:10–11 “A prophet named Agabus…took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, ‘This is what the Holy Spirit says: “In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” ’ ”
Observation: Scripture is clear that Paul knew well that persecution awaited him in Jerusalem, yet he pressed on. In the previous chapter Paul had said, “The Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 22:23–24).
Application: Paul was fully aware that he was heading toward his physical doom, yet he understood that the race we run is spiritual, not physical. He knew God’s call on his life, and he purposed to fulfill it without regard for physical consequences. I would love to sit back and read these verses antiseptically, nodding in amazement at his courage and devotion to God. There is in Paul not a hint of being like Jonah who had done his level best to run from God’s assignment to go to Nineveh. Paul said in Acts 21:13, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready to not only be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Before I marvel from afar at Paul’s commitment to his call, I ought to consider my own. Everyone who loves Christ and desires to be conformed to His image will face opportunity to respond to hard calls. How else do I think such conforming could possibly occur? Certainly not by spiritual Botox, Oil of Olay, and Grecian Formula. It is in pursuit of His image. That is where I must decide whether I will respond like Jonah, looking frantically for a way of escape, or like Paul, rushing toward his destiny in Christ.
God’s testings are just that. Having come through some of life’s preliminary fires, my metal must now be tested by even greater stress. Flesh cries for rest, while the Lord calls me to keep pressing in. I want to retire into the good life (a cultural lie not even imagined by most Christians around the world), while the Lord tugs me toward new challenges and tells me that in persevering to the end, a crown of glory awaits. So, what’ll it be: an easier road that I select for myself, or the crown that He has set before me? The choice is mine, every time.
Prayer: Father, I know that Your testings will never cease in this life. But I thank You that You have already carried me through some big ones. Have Your way with me, Lord.