Thursday 18 August, 2016

Acts 20:13-16

13 We went on ahead to the ship. We sailed for Assos. There we were going to take Paul on board. He had planned it this way because he wanted to go to Assos by land. 14 So he met us there. We took him on board and went on to Mitylene. 15 The next day we sailed from there. We arrived near Chios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos. We arrived at Miletus the next day. 16 Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus. He didn’t want to spend time in Asia Minor. He was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem. If he could, he wanted to be there by the day of Pentecost.

Whether I’m in a hurry to get somewhere or not, there are no short cuts to moving forward – I just have to keep walking. These three verses are sandwiched between the story of Paul and his companions witnessing an amazing miracle, a dead man brought to life, and the group hurrying to Jerusalem for the much-awaited feast of Pentecost.

They’re three verses that simply describe the journey. They remind me that in between the high points of life there are the days of simply putting one foot in front of the other. I asked God, ‘why have all these details of ships?’ ‘Why is it important to know that Paul ‘walked’ and didn’t go by boat?’ I sensed God reminding me that life is a journey, made up of single steps, many of them quite mundane and un-spectacular, but they are steps that are happening with his guiding and they lead us to his purposes and plans. In this I find great comfort; knowing that my day to day moments and steps matter to him, and that he is leading me.

Father, if today is just a ‘keep walking’ day, remind me that it matters to you and as I commit each step to you, you are guiding me into your plans and your presence. Amen

Written by Rosie Walker

3 replies
  1. Justin Ware says:

    It is so interesting to me that Paul decided to sail right past Ephesus. We know that Paul had invested a lot in the church of the Ephesians and the letter that he wrote (now the bible book of Ephesians) shows that they as a people needed leadership and discipleship in a serious way!

    So often when I am making decisions on the run about how I should focus my time, I see peoples needs and I am moved to compassion. Sometimes it feels like we are never meant to ignore anyone’s need as Christians. Except that Jesus did. In John 5 where he healed only one man (out of a mutitude of those who were sick) and also after he feeds the 5000 people, they need him to be made king, but he flees across the lake. Jesus also withdrew into times of solitude. Peoples needs are so important , but it is too easy for me to put the needs of others ahead of what God has called me to do, and I think that this can sometimes be a bit like idolatory. I serve the needs of others before the call of the One who can meet all their needs in an instant.

    Paul here sets a great example. He has a clear vision, plan and direction. And a time frame.

    Lord, help me not get distracted , but enable me to be focussed in faith on You.

  2. Sharon Chapman says:

    Love this passage and I have often pondered why Paul walked and didn’t go by boat. I remember asking my lecturer his thoughts when we visited Assoss on a study tour of Greece and Turkey a couple of years ago. My thoughts were that he wanted to spend time alone with the Father just as Jesus had. He had been up all night preaching the night before and brought the young man back to life. The Holy Spirit had warned him on so many occasions of the hardships that lay ahead but still Paul was insistent he knew what his calling was. He also knew he needed to draw aside and spend time alone. This journey of faith is as much about drawing aside to replenish our spirit as it is about leaning in to and supporting others on their walk. We can’t have one without the other. I pray that the Lord will help us to have the right balance of both in our lives.

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