Saturday, June 18, 2011

Acts 24: The Power of Powerlessness

After yesterday's post, Tim Steiner commented that Paul's unending trip from one Roman court to another could have been the inspiration for a similar story by Franz Kafka. The term "kafkaesque" describes an absurd, unpleasant, unending experience. The difference, though, is that Paul actually seems to have invited this experience. Yes, he was making himself powerless; yes, he was giving up his high position as a law-abiding citizen of the Roman Empire to become an accused, shackled criminal, at the mercy of the "authorities" who more often than not are just paying back favors to Paul's enemies. Yes, he willingly goes before yet another Herod (Agrippa), something that never worked out well in human terms for Jesus, John the Baptist, James, Peter and John, just to name a few.

But that's okay with Paul. He's not a masochist. He just accepts that his life is not his own, anyway, and that his mission and passion is to preach Christ to the Gentiles. So where better to do this, than Rome? And who better to speak to, than princes and governors and centurions and travelers? Sure, Paul was chained to the Roman transportation, military and justice systems; more important, they were chained to him. I don't know if this apparently one-way trip to Rome is considered a "missionary journey," but it should be. It is not a victory lap, except in the sense that "in all these things we are more than conquerors". The man who wrote "when I am weak, then I am strong" knew a thing or two from personal experience and CHOICES about surrendering personal power and relying on God's.

I have been very, very angry this week. Angry at all I have lost and am losing. Just a blip in time ago this familiar old house of mine was bustling with the activities of four busy people. It wasn't always happy, but it was four "real" people living their busy lives together. Now one is dead, another lives elsewhere (with a new car and drivers license!), and a third graduated from high school this past Sunday and will be leaving home in two months. So WOE IS ME. At Deb Bensen's advice I took this to prayer. What I heard back was this: "God loves you. He knows what you are experiencing. You wouldn't be going through this if He didn't have a good reason." And yeah, receiving that takes away some of the anger, loss and sting of experiencing life in process.

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