When He Stands Next to You

Sometimes we obey God, knowing we are doing exactly what He is calling us to do.  And it stinks.  Everything around us seems to crumble out from under our feet, and the more obedient we are, the more mess seems to come from it.  It’s so easy to give up, to wonder why God does this to us, to wonder where He is in all of this.  We can feel so alone, like it’s been years since we heard from Him.

I was reading through Acts 22 and 23 today, and Paul is in one of those spots.  He knows he has to go to Jerusalem.  He also knows he’s going to be arrested there.  He walks obediently into the fire, and chaos blows up around him.  A mob wants him killed, 40 men plot to murder him, the government bungles his case, his own former friends slap him and want to see him suffer.  All because he is obeying.  He stays faithfully on course, but I know humanly, he had to wonder, to doubt a little, to ask why.

Then in Acts 23, you hit verse 11.  It says “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”  Paul is locked into the barracks with Roman soldiers for his own safety, fairly alone.  Jesus shows up.  How do I know that the amazing, brave Paul was struggling?  Jesus’ first words are “Take courage.”  Jesus only tells us that when we need to…well…take courage.  As I read that, the little phrase “the Lord stood near Paul and said” made me cry.  Once again, Jesus shows up just when all is lost, when doubt settles in, in the night time where Satan always seems to come and whisper in our ear about doubt and failure.  Jesus is there, standing close, encouraging Paul.

So many times this is exactly what I need.  Only I give up an hour too soon.  I quit being faithful and take off on my own plan to try and fix the chaos.  I don’t wait quite long enough for Jesus to show up, stand by me, and give me courage.  Today, if you are in the dark, wondering why your faithfulness has you in such a mess, please hang on.  He is coming.  He will not let you down.  All it will take is for Him to remind you to “take courage”.

Don’t quit.