Paul and Barnabas make their way home. We have read that they already passed back through Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. They retraced their steps as far as Perga before setting sail back home from Attalia.
I’m going to confess right now that today’s reading doesn’t leave me with a lot of excitement. I already told you before that the “they went here, then there” verses are harder for me to dig into. But when they get home it does ignite in me a bit of curiosity so that is where I want to go today.
We know that the elders of the churches in Antioch had been present and praying when the Holy Spirit commanded Paul and Barnabas to set out on their mission trip. Now they are back with those same people. I have a feeling that EVERYONE from those churches had gathered to hear what Paul and Barnabas had to say.
I’m curious how many churches there were in Antioch. Because they met in the people’s homes the size of the church had to be contained. I wouldn’t doubt that the leadership of each of the smaller ones met regularly to maintain consistency throughout the body. I wonder where this large group met for the missionaries return.
Our two missionaries are excited to share all that has transpired along the way. I wonder what stories they shared. Did they share about Paul being stoned and left for dead? Did the share the miracle of the man with the crippled feet? Did they share the story of how the people thought they were gods? Or did they concentrate their accounts on the churches that were planted and how they were doing? I would have wanted to hear both, especially any personal stories from the new believers.
What would you have wanted to hear? Would you have been excited by the fact that they went BACK to the places that tried to kill them? Would you have been curious to know the number of people who became believers? Would you have asked how God showed His approval of the Gentile’s conversions? Would you have wanted numbers and hard facts or human stories?
I would have wanted the second one for sure. I’m looking forward to asking about some of those stories when I meet Paul and Barnabas in Heaven. It’s a good thing we have all eternity together because the line will probably be long to get a chance to hear them. For now I will be content with the abbreviated version we got from Luke.
More than that though, I will be overjoyed with God reaching out for me through His gathering of the Gentiles of those first churches. Without Him reaching out through Peter first then Paul we would have had no claim to the salvation Jesus purchased on the cross. God’s grace wouldn’t be confined to just the Jews. He made sure it reached EVERYONE who would believe and call on His name. Those stories gave rise to my own. They gave rise to ALL of ours; Jews AND Gentiles. I’ve told you mine, I’d love to hear yours!
Father God, thank You for the testimonies that You have created. From the first praises of Adam to the last shout of Your glory as the trumpet sounds. Each heart has a story to tell. Each day brings new glimpses of Your goodness and grace. Please help me focus on those aspects of life rather than the angry ones. I know that many of those angry moments lead us to You too but the ones that don’t aren’t where I need to place my focus. I guess I’m asking for the “Pollyanna perspective” again (or Lincoln’s). “When you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.” Help me always look for the good and pray for the rest. Social media sure doesn’t make that easy now days but is does help me create a prayer list. I love You Lord and I want to share in what You have done with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I WANT to hear the stories of how You…. and when You….