Do Not Shrink!

“[Paul] said to [the elders of the church]: ‘You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house,  testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there,  except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God…I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God…   In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak.'” Acts 20:17-24,27,35

Paul’s rigorous travels, complete with all-night teaching sessions, tent-making to support himself, and riots, might leave us exhausted. We can view him as an aberration in commitment and gifting. But how inspiring his example to heed God’s call and not shrink back! Oh, to be like Paul! (Acts 18:3; 19:21-23,28-29; 20:7,112 Thessalonians 3:8)

A sobering mark of Paul’s ministry is that he knew it would be hard, that he would suffer; he knew his teaching about Jesus would be condemned and ridiculed. Yet as large and ominous the threats and troubles and warnings to stop, Paul would not shrink before them, nor from fulfilling his call to preach. He stood tall and fought the good fight. (Acts 9:15-16; 2 Timothy 4:7)

When tensions heat up, when we experience imposed restrictions and changes to how we would structure our work and lives and families, our flesh, feeling small and inadequate, or unwilling to get in the fray, wants to shrink from duty. How do we persevere when life is so hard, when there are roadblocks and detours everywhere? Why even try? Is the opposition and hardship worth it? Why speak up, when giants before us not only disagree and disbelieve, but drown out our voice?

When we are on God’s mission, we need not, must not, shrink. Only He knows how He plans to work, where He is stirring hearts and breaking open seeds to grow, whom we will influence. We’re called to be faithful to do our part of planting or watering, and to trust God with the results. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)

Size is nothing to the Lord who fills the earth. What do we view as insurmountable, what fears or threats loom too large for our courage, what opportunities too big for our abilities? Would we bow before the Savior, submitting to His call and filling, and determine by His grace not to shrink from His purpose?

Great Father, equip and embolden me to go forth each day on Your mission, at Your direction, in Your power and love, bearing Your truth and light in my world. All for your glorious amen.

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