“For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying,’FEAR NOT, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.’ Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.” ~ Acts 27:23-25
FEAR NOT: God has a ‘Prison’ Reserved for You too
The statement ‘FEAR NOT, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar…’ is quite astonishing. An angel appeared to Paul with this message and it marked the end of Paul’s missionary ministry and the beginning of a sustained period of writing that would produce most of the epistles and a major doctrinal chunk of the New Testament. Moreover, all this would take place IMPRISONED in Rome.
So we could paraphrase the angels message as, “Don’t worry, Paul, you have been relieved of your post/ministry and reassigned to do some letter-writing in a cold dungeon in the capital where you may never see the light of day again.” It is likely that THAT message would have caused most of us to FEAR instead of to FEAR NOT.
Paul however, shows us the right response: he went willingly. His life had been turned upside-down, but he yielded willingly to God’s directive.
How could he be so willing??
At least a part of the answer lies in a verse he wrote to the Philippian Church:
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” ~ Philippians 1:21
Paul’s life was completely dedicated, submitted, to the will of God: to the cause of Christ. He would go anywhere and do anything for Christ. If spending the rest of his life in a dungeon would further the work of the Kingdom of God: then he would go to the dungeon. Before his ‘reassignment’ he had willingly endured stonings, beatings, jailings, and more for the cause of Christ.
AND it mattered not whether he lost his life while serving his Lord, Jesus. For death, if it came, was gain!!! To be clear, Paul did not desire death; he was neither suicidal nor morbid. Rather, when God was ready to call him home, he would be ready to go, because he would be “dying” according to God’s PERFECT will. For Paul, life was not about living or dying life was about being in God’s will and being in God’s will was always gain; whether he was dead or alive.
So many of us, Believers, fear telling a stranger about Jesus, just because they might reject us or we might “make them uncomfortable”. Paul and the other Apostles spent their whole lives making people uncomfortable and they had the scars to prove it. BUT they were undeterred and they were unashamed.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” ~ Romans 1:16a
Many of them had to leave their homes, their countries and their culture to spread the Gospel far and wide. God sent them on numerous assignments. How far are we willing to go for God?
What if God changes our careers, turns our lives upside-down, inside-out and reassigns us to a dungeon somewhere far away? Would we spend the rest of our days in FEAR and regret, in bitterness and resentment?? Or would we, like Paul, accept our redeployment willingly. Are our lives all about Christ or all about comfort??
FEAR NOT, Believer, God’s will won’t take us where His grace can’t sustain us. FEAR NOT, The Good Shepherd is always leading us to better pastures… even though some look like dungeons. Praise God!!!