This chapter is timely for me. The very beginning is about Paul encouraging the believers. He sent for believers and encouraged them. He went to believers and encouraged him. He travels to Troas and, again, pours his heart out to those who believe in Jesus. He was trying to cram in as much of the Good News as possible because it was most likely his last time to see them. Honesty, I get this, maximizing your time. Staying up as late as possible because who knows what tomorrow brings. If you have ever sent your child to war, kissed them goodbye for a deployment, then you fully understand what it means to stay up into the night even if you risk falling asleep and falling out a window. Paul was being deployed.
His travels eventually take him to Ephesus. It is there he discloses information the Holy Spirit shared with him. Paul knows suffering, trials, and wicked plots against him await, but he still says yes. Verse 20 I never shrank back from telling you what you need to hear, either publicly or in your homes. The cost of the truth is high, but Paul willing wrote checks with his life daily. But the verse that gets me in my feels is this one right here; “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” Acts 20:22-24
Paul is informed pain and imprisonment come with his next mission. We often miss this part of the ministry. The cost. The struggle. The sorrow. The rejection. But Paul’s going in eyes wide open to the next journey. The Spirit gives him a heads up that it’s going to get ugly.
Saying yes to Jesus, preaching the gospel, is by far the best decision I have ever made. However, I was naïve to the persecution that would come my way. I had no idea other Christians or godly women wouldn’t celebrate the call of God on my life. I was blindsided by gossip, slander, and lies that would be spread. Some days, I contemplated shrinking back, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Some, 30 years later, I am fully aware of the price, and I still say yes. Yes, to souls saved, women healed, warriors reinstated. I can say yes to the lonely days because I have found a wealth of His presence in the seasons of heartache. But would I have said yes if I knew what I was going into? I don’t really know. I want to say I would have been just as determined, but the Lord didn’t warn me; He wooed me into saying yes.
Paul knew that the pressure of the enemy and the religious organizations only increased in him a burning desire to push back and not shrink back. He pressed towards the mark with the Good News! But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
After this heartfelt speech, Paul knows he will not see his friends ever again. These are some of the last words this body of Christ hears from Paul.
This chapter is loaded with emotional moments; perhaps it’s just me. But I can feel Paul’s words deeply. It ends with this precious scene; “When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them. They all cried as they embraced and kissed him goodbye.” Acts 20:36-37 NLT
He knelt and prayed, and they wept. This sums up ministry; Rejoicing, praying, miracles, weeping, some bullies here and there, a bit of grief, a few goodbyes. But the rewards are worth saying yes to the unknown and saying yes to King Jesus. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.