Today’s Reading: Acts 20
Hello Friends,It’s been a whole month since I’ve written to you. I’m sure it’s become evident that my Bible Journal journey is often more about my relationship with you, the readers through these “letters” than it is about me bringing any sort of expertise to God’s word! It’s late on Sunday, and I’ve been avoiding putting pen to paper. Acts 20 takes us to a heavy place. Paul is saying goodbye to the Ephesians for the last time. Paul and the Ephesians have cultivated a relationship that serves as a beautiful example to us of Christian fellowship. They cared for one another. They grew close, shared joys and sorrows and held fast to the message of Jesus Christ. Paul leaves the Ephesians with these words:
“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in and among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Acts 20:29-30
Paul’s departure from Ephesus is characterized by “much weeping on the part of all…” What follows is indeed a season of wolves for the Ephesians. After reading this chapter a few times, I find myself in a season of wolves. As much as I take hope and solace from the story of Eutychus falling and surviving earlier in Chapter 20, I’m still stuck on the emptiness left by Paul’s departure. The truth is that even after the joy of Easter, some of us find it difficult to hold fast to the Jesus we cannot see. Just as Paul promised, Jesus is alive in our lives each and every day, but we have to cultivate our relationship in order to live that reality. In the last month, our three year old daughter developed seizures. Just like the Ephesians, I felt my foundation crumble beneath me. So many of the wolves that Paul describes have come in the night to tear away my strength, my joy, my Jesus.
Just as Paul forewarned the Ephesians, he is also preparing us. We all know that a certain darkness will come to our lives. He tells us:
“Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:31-32
Did you catch that? Three years. For three years Paul built up the Ephesians, never ceasing to grow their faith like iron sharpening iron so that they would be able to stand alone in the face of adversity knowing their God and His grace. Our daughter Ruby Mae just turned three. For three years she has remained healthy while our oldest son was tested time and again with physical illness. Our heavenly Father knows our hearts and knows that this new storm is just the next opportunity to bring us closer to Him. As I Mom, I felt the storm coming, saw the clouds on the horizon. When it came, my mind was armed and ready to stand strong but my heart was exposed. Slowly, God is shepherding us through this new challenge and we follow, stumbling, often losing our way. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen. In fact, I think my husband and I would agree that we have had way more bad stuff to face since we committed our lives to Jesus Christ. I know we’d also agree that the love, care and support we’ve received from our church family has taken away so much of that pain. At the end of today’s reading, Paul reminds the Ephesian’s of Jesus’ words:
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than receive.’” Acts 20:35
We are so blessed to be helped when we are weak and called to help others when their weakness comes. I hope that our testimony of Christian love in our life gives you hope in yours. We humbly ask for your prayers for our precious daughter. The future is uncertain. We in turn promise to hold fast to prayer for you, our readers that we know face storms of one kind or another.
Peace I Leave You My Friends