I love the book of Acts as we get a glimpse into Paul’s missionary journeys! In this exciting chapter (go ahead and read it all) Paul begins his second missionary journey with Silas.
Right off the bat we get to meet Timothy and Lydia – two faithful believers at their start. One thing I love about FUEL is looking out over the crowd and seeing the youthful energy and passion – and knowing that they won’t stay youth too long. It is fun to wonder who might one day be my pastor, or my pastor’s wife? Who might go on a missions trip with one of my children? Who might teach a class at FUEL to my grandkids (years and years from now)? The Christian life is a process of growth and ups and downs and new experiences and deeper maturity. It’s fun to see the first steps of this developing growth in our church youth – and in those touched by Paul’s ministry.
One of the signs of growing in your faith – which can even be difficult for those who have been Christians a long time – involves putting your own plans aside when God would have you go in a different direction. Here, Paul and companions (which now includes young Timothy) “were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them” (vs. 7). I wonder how the Spirit of Jesus worked this time: torrential rain flooded out the road, lost passport, contagious disease in town… Can you think of a time when you were upset by something that suddenly changed your plans? Looking back now, is there a chance that instead of circumstance or bad luck it was actually God leading you where He had a job for you to do?
Even when it looked like “bad luck” landed Paul and Silas into jail….God was at work. And, with continued faith in God and His plans, Paul and Silas were singing and praising God in their chains. At the time, they didn’t know that later that night an earthquake would open the jail doors and unfasten their chains. But they sang praises to God. They didn’t know that the jailer and his family would be baptized that very night, because of the life examples and testimonies of the faithful witnesses. But they were praying to God – and the rest of the prisoners were listening.
Beware of crumbling under your “bad luck”. Instead, keep growing your faith in God. Continue praying and singing praises to God. You never know who is listening and how it might also change their life and the lives of their family.