02/20/16 – 415
I wonder if Paul ever got homesick. You know, did he have a favorite place to go, something he used to do with his nephew when he was little? We know virtually nothing of his life before he became a persecutor of Christians. As I prepare to leave for far off places, I can’t help but wonder if he had similar feelings.
After all, we work hard to make our homes comfortable and well, homey. We often hold on to the things we love from the past, just because they bring back good memories or pleasant feelings. My wife and I like old things (maybe that’s why she likes me). So we have things like my great-grandmother’s secretary desk and mantle clock. I have a sweater that I gave my Dad for Christmas when I was 15 or so. Now I wear it, even though it’s got some signs of its age. As I write this I am sitting in an office chair that’s about 110 years old. Don’t know who had it – I just like it.
The point is, I like my home. I love spending time here with Jill, having friends over, having my kids and grandkids visit. At the same time, I’m finishing up my packing to leave for Peru early tomorrow morning. I am excited about it; I know that God has called me to go. I have friends there, and a few that are like a second family. My ‘familia Peruana’. Yet, I know that at the same time, I’ll miss being home. That is – if we have any free time, which is doubtful.
Paul didn’t seem to have that problem. At least if he did, no one ever wrote about it. Maybe they didn’t have time to blog either. Maybe that’s why he didn’t seem to mind getting arrested – it gave him a break! Maybe Paul was like:
“Sorry, Eusibius, can’t make those committee meetings this week, you’ll have to handle it. Well, yeah. I’m in jail. Again. Hey, by the way, do you think you could send me over some paper and a pencil? I might be here a while.”
Here’s my theory. I believe that Paul, whatever his relationship with his family of birth, became a part of the ‘family of God’ in a way that most of us may sing about but never really realize. When he became a Christian, his family became his brothers and sisters in Christ, Jew and Gentile. It didn’t matter where they were born, what they had been before, or what color their skin – only that they too had joined the family by becoming children of God through Jesus Christ.
I have another theory about Paul. I believe that because of his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road, Jesus’ heaven became a home for him that was as real as any place he had ever lived on earth, maybe more so. So, the closer he was to death, the closer he was to being home. It’s like after a long trip. Good or bad, when you’re on the way home, watching the miles drop away, knowing that with each one the time is getting closer when you will be walking into the safety and comfort of your own home, your family welcoming (or at least your dog will be happy to see you). (Or your cats.)
It’s hard to set aside our emotions and get on with the business that Christ has set before us. But that is often exactly what we must do in order to get the job done, and to do it well. Here is Paul’s advice:
Philippians 3: 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
In other words, keep moving forward. No matter where you are, or what failures or hurts there have been in the past, keep doing what God is calling you to do. Let Him guide you, and you will end the race well.
That’s the thing we need to remember. That’s the thing we need to focus on. Getting home, having finished the work that Christ has called us to do here on earth. Like the servants with the talents, He has given us all something to invest. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the one to try to explain to Him why it’s OK that I buried mine my whole life, when the reason He gave it was for me to use it to bring more of the family home.
That’s our prayer for today. That He would truly lead us, and help us to get through the roadblocks that so often stop us from continuing our work, and are so often set up not by others or even by Satan, but by our own emotions.