Acts 16 is a remarkable glimpse of Paul’s life.
- Paul recruits Timothy.
- Paul passes along a message of encouragement and acceptance to gentile churches from the Church in Jerusalem.
- The Holy Spirit directs Paul and the team away from Asia Minor.
- In a vision, a man from Macedonia says, “Come help us”
- Paul interprets this as direction from God and goes.
- The team ends up in Philippi.
- There aren’t enough Jewish men for there to be a synagogue, so Paul goes to where the women would meet, out by the river.
- An entrepreneurial businesswoman hears the message of Jesus, believes it, and invites Paul to come to her household as a base of ministry.
- Paul and Silas and others walk through the market, are followed by a girl who has been trafficked for her demon possession, and command the demon to come out.
- Her “owners” call the authorities and Paul and Silas are beaten, arrested, and imprisoned.
- They sing praises to God and an earthquake opens the prison doors.
- The jailer, about to kill himself, hears Paul giving him assurance and takes Paul and Silas home.
- The jailer’s household converts.
- The magistrates dismiss the charges, but Paul claims his Roman citizenship and they are mortified.
- Paul and Silas go to Lydia’s house, bless the believers, and leave town.
As we finish the story, we think, “That’s so cool.” But it unfolded over months, not minutes. There was a lot of hard work, travel, waiting, uncertainty.
Let’s remind each other of that. Our stories take months and decades to unfold, not minutes. The turns in the story are not the end of the story. And God knew where we are.