In rapid succession, Luke ticks off the final stops on Paul’s second missionary journey: Cenchreae, Ephesus, Caesarea, Jerusalem, and Antioch. He mentions these places so quickly that it’s easy to think that Paul was taking short trips. In truth, the opposite was true. Paul wasn’t hopping on jet planes, he was sailing on slow ships and walking on tired feet.
Where did Paul get his energy? What motivated him to keep traveling, keep preaching, keep dealing with conflict, keep spreading the gospel throughout this part of the world? When we read the book of Acts, Paul comes across like the Energizer Bunny, never growing tired or losing his passion.
Frankly, this makes most of us feel both envious and guilty. Envious because we don’t seem to have the same energy Paul did. And guilty because we don’t seem to have the same passion Paul did. More days than we care to admit, we sleepwalk through our activities, filled with more boredom than passion. And our relationship to God seems downright dismal compared to Paul’s.
But people like Paul come into our lives not to make us feel envious and guilty, but to challenge us, to show us how passionate and joyful a relationship with God can be.
As we read these verses today, we see Paul trekking around the ancient world, spreading the gospel and challenging us to have that kind of passion and faith ourselves.
The small-in-stature apostle from Tarsus keeps challenging us to be more than we are.
Remember a time when you approached a problem or situation with Paul’s level of energy. What made you so enthusiastic? How might you bring an element of that passion to one of your current projects?
God, restore unto me the joy of my salvation. Amen.