April 25, 2022


Devotion for the Week...

I've been dealing with a bout of tendonitis in my ankle and foot for almost a week now, which has meant no going out for walks. Considering we were on our spring break and we had fairly decent weather, it has been hard to stay in the house and off my feet. Thankfully, the tendonitis is getting better and I hope to be back to normal before long.

Whether it's injury or something else that keeps us from the things we're used to doing, it's hard being sidelined. I've missed my walks a lot! Oddly enough, the apostle Paul had experience with being sidelined. Sometime after his conversion on the road to Damascus, Saul (he hadn't yet had his name changed to Paul) traveled to Jerusalem and met the other apostles. He "stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. He debated with some Greek-speaking Jews, but they tried to murder him." (Acts 9:28-29). Yikes! That must have been some debate! "When the believers heard about this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown" (v. 30). 

That doesn't sound so bad, right? Someone was trying to kill him, so the other believers helped him get away and go to Tarsus, where he grew up. But then Saul stayed in Tarsus for years before Barnabas eventually came to ask him to come teach and preach in Antioch. How many years he spent is Tarsus isn't known and I saw scholars estimating as little as four or maybe even more than ten.

What Paul did during those years isn't known. He was probably living with his family and working in the family tent-making business. I imagine there was a lot of time spent in prayer and a lot of time learning the things that would later form the basis of his teachings. 

Did Paul long to be back in Jerusalem, teaching and debating? We don't know. Judging by his passion for teaching people about Jesus that shows up during his later missionary journeys and his letters, I would guess that he did. Whether he resented the waiting or not, though, Paul stayed there in Tarsus until God sent someone to call him to the next stage of the work God had for him. When Barnabas arrived, Paul went with him back to Antioch and "Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)" (Acts 11:26). Paul's time on the sidelines was over and he was ready to jump right into the work God had for him to do next.
In  times of waiting, it's important to stay ready for whatever God has for us next | DevotedQuilter.com
None of us like being sidelined, moved out of what we were doing and set aside for a while. It might be a case of being moved somewhere for our own good, like Paul was. Or of needing to wait a while for the timing to be right for the next thing. Or maybe we have to heal in some way before we can move forward. Whatever the case may be, being sidelined doesn't mean being out of the game altogether. In  times of waiting, it's important to stay ready for whatever God has for us next.

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