Yesterday, we started with Paul standing on the beach and ended, after a vision, with Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke boarding a boat for Macedonia. It’s a leg of the trip that took them to Philippi. It’s a part of the story that is full of God-formed intersection and positive response to the message of God that Paul was carrying.
We’re going to wait to tell that story, because today may not be the day for a simple successful happy ending for you.
Think instead about that long trip across Asia Minor that we thought about yesterday (go back and read it.) Paul was unable to do what he loved to do, to preach and visit new places to preach. But that trip had included the addition of Timothy to the team. He had a great reputation as a helpful person in his community. But he hadn’t spent time with Paul.
What equipped him to eventually spend long stretches away from Paul as his personal representative? When did he dig deep in learning, when did he hear Paul’s personal stories and theological stories? When did he learn everything Paul had learned while God had pulled Paul out of circulation between Damascus and the beginning of his public ministry? When did they develop the deep personal relationship that is evident in 2 Timothy?
I’m guessing it was during this time that Paul was protected from the crazy interruptions of public ministry. During this time, Paul’s usual pattern of preaching and being jailed, preaching and being stoned, preaching and being driven out of town was put on pause by the spirit of God. And Paul was able to focus on the audience of one that was walking with him.
It reminds me of the way that Jesus took the disciples into the rural north of Israel, to mentor with fewer interruptions.
It’s possible that the reason we can’t do the big things we’d love to do is because God’s inviting us, giving us space, to teach the ones close to us first. Our friends. Our kids. Rather than searching for distraction, perhaps we need to celebrate the current conversation.
It seems to have worked for Paul.