“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” Acts 20:24 NLT
Part one of this two-part series on endurance was very powerful for me personally. I write these blog posts because I am learning and applying these principles in my own life and I want to share with others what God is revealing to me. I can genuinely say that I am always excited when I am able to write about what God is revealing to me and I feel like it is a shame to not share that with others. If you did not get a chance to read part one of endurance, then STOP reading this right now! Go back and read it so you are not missing out on how these posts are built together.
What I am going to share with you today is building off of those principles mentioned in the first post through the life of one of the greatest Apostles: The Apostle Paul.
To be honest, I did not even plan on having another post about endurance, but God laid on my heart to read about the life of Paul, also known in the New Testament as Saul. Paul is probably most well-known for his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road that radically changed his life from a persecutor of believers to becoming an Apostle and leading so many others to Christ (Start reading in Acts). As great as that encounter was, that is not what jumped out to me when reading through the book of Acts. What stood out to me was when Paul and Silas were put in prison in Philippi. I have probably read these Scriptures numerous times and never even thought about stopping to understand the significance in this situation, but God obviously was showing me something that I needed to understand. I am going to post the Scripture and it is kind of long, but bear with me, it will be worth it I promise! Starting in Acts 16:25:
“Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him. ‘Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!’
The jailer called for the lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.’ And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household.” (Acts 16:25-32 NLT)
Now, the first thing that was brought to my attention was the fact that Paul and Silas were not complaining and asking God why they were put in prison, they were praying and worshipping to God! Why were Paul and Silas doing this? It was almost as if they were prepared to endure in that situation. If you go back and read about Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road, you will see that God CHOSE Paul to deliver the Good News and that he MUST suffer for proclaiming it.
“But the Lord said, ‘Go, for Saul (Paul) is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16 NLT)
Paul understood what he faced and still pursued it anyway. He was informed many times that he would be imprisoned but he kept pushing forward because he knew that his endurance would not be for nothing, that there would be good that would come out of it. This brings me to the rest of what stood out to me and it completely shook me to my core. After praying and worshipping to God, there was a massive earthquake that freed them and gave them a way out of the prison. But Paul and Silas STAYED PUT. Let me ask you this question, and it is the very question that I asked myself the minute this was revealed to me:
Have you ever been praying for God to create a seismic shift in your life to change the course that you are on because you did not understand why you were in a current situation?
This question hit me like a ton of bricks. Paul and Silas were in prison, praying and worshipping God, not complaining and asking why like some of us would (I know I would be). They knew they were right where they were supposed to be for a reason. They had a way of escape and could have walked out of that prison and been free to continue on their journey, but they stayed because being in that prison was apart of their journey.
Maybe the seismic shift that you have been needing to happen in your life is the same seismic shift that creates complete chaos in someone else’s life.
So what about the jailer? How does he fit into this? This seems like a rather insignificant part of the journey, but it turns out that this was the most important part, the very reason Paul and Silas were in that prison. You see, the earthquake that freed Paul and Silas was the same earthquake that made that jailer want to kill himself because immediate chaos occurred in his life and he lost all hope. But Paul and Silas never wavered from what their purpose was and PURSUED the jailer instead of fleeing from the confines of the prison cell. They understood that their situation was not about them and God was going to bring them through it no matter what, even if suffering had to occur. Paul and Silas were so intent on spreading the Good News and because of their unwavering faith and courage, they SAVED the jailer and his entire household.
But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus…
This is an extremely powerful passage of Scripture that revealed so much about myself that I need to work on. I want to become like Paul, to know that living a life for Christ is not easy and there will be times of enduring, times of suffering, but also times of celebrating and great joy because nothing is greater than knowing that our lives can be used to finish the work assigned to us by Jesus Christ, which is to bring hope to the lost, spread the Good News of eternal life through believing in Jesus, and making heaven more crowded.
If you are reading this post and you identify more with the jailer and are experiencing a seismic shift in your life that is making you contemplate everything, please DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE. Jesus Christ is alive today and we have that same hope of eternal life that the jailer chose when Paul pursued him. If you have more questions about Jesus or want to know about committing your life to Christ, please feel free to email me using the link at the top of this page, or by going to the contact page on the Home menu. I hope that this message inspired you as much as it inspired me to become more like Paul, enduring through my circumstances to understand that my purpose is not about me, it is about something greater than me.