Not to be hard on him, the same goes for me. I write what I experience and those who read it and are out in the working world could easily respond, “That’s easy for her to say.” Their lives are filled with far different trials, temptations and opportunities than mine.
This morning I read how Paul was under house arrest in Rome. What parts of his experience connect to where I am and what I do?
Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him. (Acts 28:30-31)Soldiers “came to him” as his guards, friends visited, and maybe the curious arriving on his doorstep. His mission was to preach and teach about Jesus, which he did. There is nothing here about how he lived. Did he do his own cooking? Who cleaned his rented house? Where did the necessities of life come from? Did he have neighbors who got annoyed if one of his friends parked their chariot across their driveway? Who took out the garbage?
This reminds me of a commercial on our local cable stations for a woman’s network. The first part shows a day in the life of an “ordinary” woman. By the time she deals with breakfast, kids, traffic, her job, more traffic, and supper, she is a basket case. The next part is a “W-woman” who is in a fantasy world with handsome men, maids, dinner parties, designer clothes, swimming pools, tennis and no stress at all.
No one in their right mind would deny that the W-woman’s life is appealing, but unless a person is wealthy and not too bright, who lives like that? Ordinary people have chicken pox, charred toast, spilled milk, grass stains, and arguments. Spouses snore and leave their dirty socks on the bathroom floor. We get sick, run out of gas, forget to pay bills, and have to shovel snow (at least where I live).
Today’s devotional comments say that readers may find ourselves thinking that we cannot go and preach the gospel, be an evangelist, or a Bible teacher. We are stuck with a job and so on. He’s got that right. Then he says it doesn’t matter if someone is chained to a desk, an assembly line, a classroom, a car, or a sales position because these are opportunities to further the gospel. Easy to say from someone who has not been there.
Years ago I read a long essay in Harper’s by a reporter who decided to ‘be there’ so she quit her well-paying, secure job and went to work as a waitress. She experienced all that low-income people experience, plus insults, rip-offs, and a host of other indignities that she knew nothing of in her former job. It was one of the best pieces of journalism I’ve ever read. Whatever else happened, she became a far better writer because she stepped down from her perch.
Only one person has ever done a total job of stepping down to everyone else’s level. He was royalty, King of kings, rich beyond compare. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
The reporter maybe wanted a story or was tired of her jaded experiences, but Jesus didn’t do it for any reasons that are appealing. Instead, He humbled Himself and became a man, even the lowest of the low in His birth, life and death, so He could defeat sin and selfishness for all of us. He was obedient totally — and it killed Him.
Now He is in glory, but He also lives in me. He knows from being here (here as a man, and here living now in His people) what ordinary life is all about. He may say I can use Paul as a pattern, but more often I hear Him tell me to not worry about who I am, or even what I do. Instead, He asks me to just trust Him, relax and do what seems even more impossible; let Him shine through me.