Day 48: GOD, GPS & Perseverance (Acts 20:1-17)
Today’s Passage: Acts 20:1-17
Many commentators of a certain age (that would be mine) note that before GPS there were maps. We didn’t just pop in our car, open up an APP, and go. No, we would have to plan our trips using paper maps, and more. We would call people on the phone and get their advice. They would give us local landmarks so we would not miss our turn…And when we did miss a turn, “re-routing” as our GPS now displays, was just a wee bit more complicated.
Do people even get lost anymore?
I expect in those Pre-GPS days, we might have “thrown a few prayers up to God”.
What has any of this to do with today’s reading?
Well, first of all, I was back into my maps-mindset, looking carefully at all the places Paul and his buddies travelled. Doing that exercise easily puts me into the “travel-log mode”. I look at the size of the cities, the distance traveled, what Paul might have faced in each, etc.
Part of digging into those maps isn’t so I have more knowledge. It is to try and place myself into this journey with Paul. When I read the different gospels, I try to imagine what it would have been like to be there with Jesus. How would being at the calming of the storm, the raising of Lazarus, or the Last Supper affected me?
I am trying to likewise imagine running around with Paul. Perhaps this is a bit personal as I now run around the world. It can be tiring. There are many days away from my family. I end up in a city, trying to share Jesus and God’s Word, only to leave wondering.
But then I notice his sheer perseverance. He does it in everything. Note how he preached all night. The text today has these details about how there were many lights. Curious that the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to add that bit. What’s the point? That this teaching session was a serious and important one—everyone wanted to hear the teaching.
Then of course this young man dozes off and falls out a window. Note what happens. Paul attends personally to the situation, then tells people the lad is fine (which apparently, he is), and continues to strengthen the local church.
Paul perseveres. He perseveres towards his goal.
Certainly, Paul has as his immediate earthly aim, Jerusalem. But we know he is looking higher.
His goal, his destination, is that he delivers all who hear the Gospel message. That through his work, God might build them up in the knowledge and love of Him. This target is his aim. This objective is his end.
I am struck by the detail that he is speaking to the Ephesian elders. You may recall that he recently spent 2 years in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). He loves them.
And he knows that while he perseveres, in the end it is God’s grace that does the work. In that letter to the Ephesians, he prays that the “eyes of their hearts be open” (Eph 1:18-23).
Which brings me back to GPS and Maps. Maybe GPS is better, and not just for its ease of use. When I used maps, I was fully reliant on myself. Yes, the map had to be accurate, but I figured the path. With GPS, I am implicitly trusting someone else to guide me to my destination.
How about your life with God? Are you behaving like you have your bible and you are figuring it all out? Or, are you taking your aim, your goal, and running towards looking to God for direction and strength to persevere?
What is your big-picture goal in life? Have you spoken to God about it? Do you live as if He is involved?