Dear West Family
I have found it true, in my thirty years of walking with Jesus, that God and I have a different sense of time and urgency. When I want something to move quickly and with urgency, then that seems to be the exact season that God seems to slow things down and make me wait. When I want things to go slow, then that is when everything seems to come at me all once. The fact that God and I don’t have the same sense of time and urgency shouldn’t be surprising as God and I have very different perspectives and very different priorities.
Our perspectives are so dissimilar that is seems almost heretical to describe them using the same word, but alas, my limited vocabulary renders it necessary. I am bound by time, space, limited visibility, and sinful blindness. God suffers none of these limitations.
Our priorities too are vastly different. While I am striving after my success, God is working tirelessly on my sanctification. While I am seeking affirmation in self promotion and the sense of acceptance it promises, God is working endlessly at the global resound of His own glorious name and the true rest that a life committed to that cause creates. While I am clambering to defend my little kingdom, God is spreading the boundaries and borders of His Kingdom.
This difference jumped out at me in a little verse in Acts 24 that I have read many times before, but that resounded with me in a fresh way by the Spirit this week. The last few chapters of Acts are frustrating from a pure “narrative arc” perspective. It seems as if the story is building to great crescendo where Paul is going to be freed and given access to preach the gospel to the entire Roman empire. That outcome of Romans proselytization happens in a way in church history, but Paul spends some of the best years of his life being patted back and forth as a political ping-pong ball between various layers of political and social significance and insignificance in Jewish and Roman life. He lands up in Acts 24 imprisoned at or near Herod’s palace in Caesarea under the Roman governor Felix. Felix is married to Drusilla, who is Jewish, and the two of them seem to give Paul an empathetic audience. It looks for all money as if this is God’s great plan. Felix and Drusilla are going to become Christians, Paul is going to be given prominence in Roman life, and everyone will live happily ever after. But then a strange thing happens … Felix gets freaked out by Paul’s zeal (he isn’t the only one, to be fair) and says that he will call for Paul to hear more from him when he is ready. Imagine Paul going to bed that night. He was probably excited about this trajectory and imagining all the scenarios of gospel advance that God was playing out. Felix does call for him, quite regularly, but seemingly more for entertainment than for conversion and Paul remains a prisoner awaiting trial.
And then verse 27 hits like a sledgehammer.
“After two years had passed, Portius Festus succeeded Felix, and because Felix wanted to do the Jews a favor, he left Paul in prison.”
Two years? Two years?
Two years pass and all that happens after all of that is that the bureaucratic wheels of seemingly random inefficiency roll one dude out and another dude in and Paul is a victim of a politician providing favors for pals. No one got saved, Paul didn’t get released, Drusilla didn’t become the first century Beth Moore under Paul’s tutelage. Nothing.
Friends, here is the crazy thing. I have no idea why God did that to or for Paul. The text never resolves it, and it isn’t the last time it happens in Paul’s life. All I know is, God’s perspective and God’s priorities are different from ours and so faithful servants of Christ learn to wait when they need to, and learn to move when they are not quite ready.
Maybe you are in a season of waiting. Trust God. He sees things you don’t see and He is working on things you don’t know about. Ask Him to use this season to shape you into all He wants you to be.
Maybe you are in a season of fast advance from God. Trust Him. He see things you don’t see and He is working in things you don’t know about. Ask Him to use this season to advance His Kingdom and to glorify His name in and through you.
I am very glad that Acts 24:27 is in the Bible.
Wait well friends. God’s working on something.
See you Sunday.