Paul, you’re going to Rome, you’ll arrive—eventually.
Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar. . . Acts 27:24
Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Acts 28:1-2
Have you ever noticed that on the way to where you are going there are a lot of steps, and stops? Many of which you did not expect? Or that even when you get to where you are going, you don’t get to stay there as long as you thought you might?
What struck me as I was studying chapter 28 here at the tail end of Acts, much of which has been devoted to Paul’s ministry, is that he was always heading somewhere, and when he got there, he always seemed to be being prepared for the next adventure. All of his arrivals, whether planned or not, led to another journey and another arrival.
Yet, for all his itinerancy, Paul always made the most of whatever time he had wherever he found himself, working like he only had a short time, and investing like that was his home and these were his people.
He never looked at any stop in his journey as just another distraction or delay in getting to his ultimate goal, and the people he found himself amongst were never a bother—except maybe for those who tried to kill him, and they were plenty. But even then he tried to convert them, to open their eyes to Jesus.
Here in Acts 28 he finds himself washed up on the shore of a random island on his way to Rome. He has to ask, where am I? And then he soon finds himself ministering to the whole island, simply because he kept putting one foot in front of the other while looking for opportunity to bless and help people.
He always had his eyes on the prize, but he always kept his hand to the plow along the way. Tilling, seeding and harvesting. That was Paul’s life. And he planted many a field along his way.
If you think about it, nearly every significant person in the Bible was moved from place to place, usually many places. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses, Joshua, the whole nation of Israel for that matter.
King David, Elijah, Ester, Ruth, Jeremiah, Mary and Joseph, even Jesus. All of them lived as sojourners on this earth, their home being wherever they set their feet as the Lord led them knowing that ultimately, this world was not their home.
And that may be the very reason the Lord does things that way—because this world is not our home. Our home is the Kingdom of Heaven and in this life, the kingdom of heaven makes its home in us, and is wherever we are found.
Reflecting back, that’s pretty much been my life, the always moving around part. Always having a goal in mind yet being amazed and even dumbfounded at how I got there, often just to find out after a season that the goal has moved. The Lord is calling from down the road saying, ‘Alright, it’s time to move on.’
‘Oh by the way, there may be some side trips, mishaps and storms along the way, but it’s all good. We’ll use them as opportunities to grow and plant more seeds.’
We are just passing through, this world is not our home. Yet, our home is always in our hearts, and we share that home with those who share that heart. And that is a beautiful thing.
“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Ruth 1:16
Oh that we would all have the faithfulness to follow, the discernment to see the wisdom of God’s plan before us, and the courage to follow—or stay, and to choose the right.