“When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, “So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”’ Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, ‘What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, ‘The will of the Lord be done’” (Acts 21:11-14).
“For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed” (Isaiah 50:7). “Now it came to pass when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ Be He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me; for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.’ Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me’” (Matthew 16:21-24). “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).
How do you respond when you know the Lord has told you to do something difficult? Consider your answer carefully, for if you listen carefully, I have no doubt that the Lord has been asking you to do something difficult. (If you think He isn’t, maybe you’ve been drowning Him out!) For Christ, it was the agony in the Garden, knowing what suffering lay ahead of Him. So fearful was this agony, that He asked the Father to take it away if there were any way possible. Yet it was this very thing that Jesus set His face to do, knowing the terrible price.
For Paul, it was the chains that had been prophesied for him. He knew that if he continued to listen to the Spirit that chains and tribulation awaited him. But none of these things moved him, not did he count his life dear to himself (Acts 20:24). It sounds to me like Paul desired to come after Jesus Christ because he was denying himself, taking up his cross daily, and following Him.What is it for you? Don’t imagine that just because the Lord may not lead you to the Roman Cross or Roman prison that He has not called you to tribulation for Him. Sometimes our tribulations are much punier things than these, and yet to us they may seem like Mt. Everest or K2.
For our little children, it may be in going to school to face bullies or ostracization, or facing the world alone when the adults in their lives aren’t there. In a very small way, I’m proud of my kids for their little acts of courage in the doctors’ offices. According to my wife’s reports, they’ve all been brave in the face of physical pain, and they’re pretty good about it when they skin their knee or grind their rears on the concrete when skateboarding. My prayer is that they will manifest such courage in the spiritual battles the Lord has set before them.
How have you been responding? Sometimes I’m ashamed of the size of my trials. Actually, I’m not so much ashamed of them but of my relative cowardice in the face of them. I’m frightened that I may not fulfill something the Lord has asked me to do, not remembering that He is the one who will do what He has desired in me. I fear that, based on 47 years of dedicated research, my past experience indicates that I’m not qualified for the next mission the Lord has given me.
In this way, I act the part of both St. Paul and the companions of Paul and the Tyreans and those from Caesarea: I am both ordained by the Lord to do something, and I persuade myself that I shouldn’t or can’t do it.
But in the end, I truly am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Tyler, TX for the name of the Lord Jesus. So when I do not allow myself to be persuaded to obstruct the will of the Lord, I cease contending with myself and simply say, “The will of the Lord be done.” For I know that of course I’m not qualified (in myself) for my next mission. But I also know that the One who has called Me to it is eminently qualified and will equip me for it Himself.
Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Point for Meditation: Meditate on some of the thing the Lord has commanded you to do. How courageous have you been in doing them?
Resolution: I resolve to ask for courage for one thing today and to seek the encouragement of the Holy Spirit in doing this one thing.
© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson