Acts 20:22-24 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”
A few days ago, I became extremely annoyed. Something happened that made me just flat-out irritated and frustrated, and I sat in my bedroom pouting for an hour or so. Normally I don’t let myself stew like that, but this time I felt that I was being unfairly treated and so I just let the moping roll over me in murky but strangely enjoyable waves. A thousand complaints ran through my head: “This isn’t right.” “This shouldn’t be this way.” “I deserve better than this.” “Why is my life so difficult?” “Why does it have to be me that lives like this?”
What caused my frustration, you ask? Something huge. Something earth-shatteringly important. Something so enormous that it threatened to overwhelm the rest of my life.
I couldn’t afford to buy the perfect pair of shoes I had found online.
Yes, that’s right. I couldn’t afford to buy shoes. So I spent an hour moping. An hour of my life I will never be able to regain or change.
I can hear you laughing…really, I can. But before you judge me, take a quick look at yourself! If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us at some point do essentially this same thing. We lose our focus on what is really important and end up focusing instead on things that have no real value – things that hold no meaning outside this short, short life.
Today during my personal devotional time this passage from Acts 20 jumped out at me, and it really convicted me regarding my little “mope” the other day. I think it should challenge all of us.
How crazy was Paul’s life?? If you read this passage carefully you will see that no only did he face struggles and persecution everywhere he went, but he knew those things were going to happen before he even traveled to the cities! That is seriously extreme! Paul walked straight into situations where he knew he would experience pain and suffering, all because he believed that his calling from God was so important that he was willing to risk his life for it. Because he had the right focus.
Paul’s life was an experiment in extreme faith. His constant focus on completing the task God had given him did not lead to a “happy ending” in the human sense. Yet it did lead him to a place where he could say at the end of his life that he had “finished the race” given to him and had done the best for God that he could – something that he believed was worth more than any human wealth or physical comfort.
Paul wasn’t a perfect man. Like the rest of us, he probably experienced moments when his focus wavered, and he was distracted from his purpose for a short time. But Paul spent his whole life doing his best to make sure that the path of his life was always directed straight toward accomplishing what God had given him to do.
As we attempt to also live our lives to bring glory to God, this should be our purpose as well – to go to extreme levels to show the world our faith. We don’t have to be perfect. We just have to learn to constantly pay attention to where our focus is directed, and to re-focus if necessary! If we do this, the rewards in the end – the eternal rewards – will be far more satisfying in the end than anything we could possibly obtain here on earth (and definitely more satisfying than a pair of designer shoes!).