A few weeks ago, I started ruminating on the word BE, to see if I could tackle this blog before we left town on our family vacation. I had recently shared the verse “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) with my Bible study group, jokingly adding that “I am not a good role model at this…” So, I began pondering and jotting down why busyness has such a draw for many of us? Why are so many of us drawn to the continuum of “doing” instead of “being”? More of that to come, because at the same time, I kept feeling the Holy Spirit whisper “just wait, you will see how God wants this blog to unfold”. So, instead of pre-writing, I began pre-packing for our trip.
Our summer trip was to introduce our teenagers to their first time abroad. I asked our Christian studies teacher for some insight on apostle Paul to read as homework, knowing we would visit Corinth and Athens, Greece, two areas Paul shared the gospel.
As I’ve gotten to know Paul and as he was first known as Saul, I am reminded that he was highly educated, and born a Jewish, Roman citizen, which I never realized was pertinent in ultimately getting him to visit Rome. He was a respected and well-known Pharisee. Keep in mind, just like us, Paul never met Jesus in human form. They were alive at the same time, yet as a persecutor of Christians, Saul was Jesus’ enemy. That changed at an unlikely meeting on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). It’s awe-inspiring to think that God had him exactly where he was meant to be. Saul left that life-calling behind, was renamed Paul, and began boldly proclaiming his faith.
Saul was deeply knowledgeable about God’s law.
Paul was about to use his training to deeply come to know God. And we can too.
Paul was skilled in tent making. As he left his original profession, tent making became a necessity for fueling his ministry and allowed him to make friends along the way. He stayed for 18 months in Corinth with his friends Priscilla and Aquila and gained respect to speak to the community at the local marketplace. He was a skilled orator, as well as a writer. My family was able to walk the first-century road that Paul walked into the marketplace (the Agora), and we stood where Paul shared the gospel. We also got to experience the high winds circling the Greek islands, similar to those that would have later shipwreck Paul’s boat on the way to Rome. The awe of all of this was simply, AWESOME!
How fortunate are we to have Paul’s 13 epistles, sharing stories of Jesus’ life, with guidelines on how we are to live today, provided to Paul by the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, we can read Paul’s letters to his friends in Corinth (1 and 2 Corinthians), but there is nothing written to the Athenians. These two city centers are about an hour apart, yet in one area Paul was received, and in the other, they questioned and philosophized, but they didn’t accept his message. But God had Paul exactly where he was meant to be. He spoke to Paul in a vision while in Corinth, read it here. (Acts 18:9-11).
I thought a lot about the apostle Paul on our Greece trip. Because of our time change, I was often groggiest in the morning when I normally have my quiet time, thus had my best thoughts later in the day. So, it was at night that I was often conversing with God: thanking Him for the blessings He provided as I reviewed each day. I often found myself singing praise music on repeat in my mind as we were winding up our chat and I was falling asleep.
In my time of being with God, a few similar thoughts were reoccurring, the ones the Holy Spirit asked me to wait and explore: It started by sifting through the amazing change that occurred in Paul. From his life as Saul – a powerful, respected Pharisee to that of Paul, an imprisoned missionary, who died for the faith.
Do you have the same trust, as your life work is changing too?
As I watch my beautiful high schoolers innocently hang out with older kids we met, I watch firsthand that my role is dwindling. I will (hopefully slowly) no longer be their go-to with each new infatuation, bruised knee or bruised heart. They will have less desire for my fashion advice and won’t need me to chauffeur them. My role is beginning to shift, one of doing less with them and becoming more the behind-the-scenes of their life. Less of the hand holding, leading the way, guide, to the protector behind the scenes. So much of the “doing” I am used to each day will be going away. It’s the thought of my kids heading out on their adventures that makes me most excited for them, and can bring me to tears faster than just about anything.
Are you busy or where you are meant to be?
As I continue reading Paul’s letters, I come upon his warning on busyness. I had no idea in my pre-writing / pre-packing time frame that the Holy Spirit knew that if I would listen to His whisper, read the homework, and take some time to digest it with my Heavenly Father, He would lead me to a verse on busyness from 2000 years ago. I love that it is written from Corinth, in Paul’s second letter to his friends in Thessaloniki. In it, he writes paragraphs on avoiding idleness and the people who are disruptive and busybodies. (2 Thessalonians 3).
Similar to the continuum of Rest before Work, which suggests that we are much more productive when we come to the office after a restful weekend. It is the same with the continuum of Do versus Be for the Lord. We are more able to respond to the above questions when we are in communion with the Lord, listening to what He is asking us to pursue to advance His ways.
So, as I linger in my time zone haze, I acknowledge that my job change also will include a much quieter home, fewer shoes to pick up on the mudroom floor, fewer quantities of food to prepare, and only one other place setting at the table. This makes me pause and appreciate (and thank God for) the man I married, the man who has been an even better Dad than I could’ve ever dreamed for my children. I need to consult God as to how we should build our life together as just two again. I am confident God will be the same Father as He was for Paul. If I keep spending time listening to Him, and following Him, He will use my gifts and talents for more Kingdom work. I am right where I need to be.
Please pray with me: Lord, so often my mind wants me to accomplish a checklist and complete a task. Yet my heart is crying out to connect with You. I yearn for more quiet time hearing Your voice and Your plans for me. Thank you for scripture homework and travel to experience more of You in our world today. Thank you for the believers who have loved You, that I can learn more about You through the Good Word. Amen.