After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you – for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
Paul was used to travelling. Before he met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, he went all over Israel and to different countries, trying to eradicate the Christians and their faith (Acts 26:11) . After having met Jesus and been commissioned by Him, Paul kept moving with the gospel message wherever the Holy Spirit led him. His preaching led people to put their trust in Jesus, and churches were formed. But how would they be taught and encouraged to live as believers amongst people who were hostile to them?
Initially, Paul visited them and grew his team of trusted colleagues who were sent to teach and supervise the young churches. But as a true pastor-teacher, Paul loved the people who had come to Christ under his ministry, whom he had nurtured in the faith. He had a special affection for the churches in Ephesus and Corinth where he had spent the longest periods of time, and also faced significant opposition.
His first visit to Corinth stirred up much hostility, and he was afraid. So the Lord used a vision to tell him, “‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.’ So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.” (Acts 18:9-11). The same situation was now occurring in Ephesus and Paul hoped the Corinthians would understand his motives for delaying his next visit to them, assuring them that he wanted to spend significant time with them also.
How do you decide the priority of two or more equally important assignments? Many people will choose the easiest, the one with least difficulty. But that is not often God’s way. He often seems to test our faith by taking us right up to a solid wall before revealing that there is a door. He takes us up to the last second before showing His way. He allows opposition as we engage with people about Jesus, and yet He guards His people as they release the gospel. He knows how to move us, placing us where He can use us. We may have plans to move but He can use us well where we are. Don’t take the easy way out. The Lord will give you the wisdom and courage to stay or move, according to His will.
Sovereign Lord. Thank You that all things are under Your command. Forgive me for wanting to take the easy way out, to give in to fear and fail to see that those who oppose me are most in need of Your salvation. Please help me to accept the challenges You set before me and not be afraid, as I trust You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.