In Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience & Redemption, a former POW describes the day that a B29 Bomber was spotted from the camp. Totally removed from the outside world, it was a recently captured prisoner that identified this new model U.S. aircraft. The entire camp began to shout, "B29, B29, B29....." and as one POW said, "Seeing those planes over Tokyo, not even the bayonet prods could wipe the smiles off of our face!" Talk about a healthy dose of hope. One that produced a boldness for which they couldn't contain. This new found hope propelled them to "hang on" just a little longer.
As Pastor Andrew read us the above excerpt, the connection finally hit me. For throughout Paul's missionary journeys, and ultimate imprisonment, Paul held firmly to this theme of hope. At first this might seem to be a hope more associated with that of desperation or well wishing. But actually, it was hope based on personal testimony and the undeniable certainty of God's promise (Acts 26:6). He had seen those B29's (his Damascus road) and no Roman official or Jewish religious leader could take that hope away. No amount of torture or threat could wipe that smile off of his face.
Today's message walked us through Paul's trial in Caesarea. One in which he could have easily been acquitted and gone about his way. Rather, he used this setting to declare the Gospel message. He speaks to Christ's resurrection (26:8 & 23) and we see the boldness in Paul that is driven by this hope. The application, as it struck me, was to question our own lack of courage to openly share as we should. Is it because we don't hold strongly to the same hope? Is it because we are sensitive to rejection, and/or insults (see 26:24 where Governor Festus calls Paul "insane" and "out of his mind"). Here's praying that our hope builds courage and our courage allows us to share His love and the gospel message more confidently.
Thanks Andrew, awesome message.
"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.