When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia.
Thoughts for Today:Paul had spent two years in Ephesus and its surrounding areas (the province of Asia) preaching and teaching the Word of God. After the riot brought about by the silversmiths (merchants and makers of idols for the temple of Artemis) had quieted, Paul felt it was now time to go. I always find it interesting how God uses a crisis to move us from where we are to where He wants us to go. Or maybe sometimes it's just as simple as moving us out of what we're doing and into what we do best so others can take over. Whichever the case, we know Paul was not only an amazing church planter, but also encourager, exhorter, teacher, admonisher, etc. and other churches certainly needed his time and attention.
Unfortunately for many of us when God allows a crisis to influence our lives, rather than looking forward to the next thing we have an interest in (for Paul it was travel to Macedonia and from there to Jerusalem), we have a tendency to look backward at what we are giving up. Take a moment and put yourself in Paul's position: he was leaving a church where he had made some deep and lasting friendships; built a strong and supportive congregation; was well-respected by his peers (both Christians and non-Christians); and until recently had lived peacefully (without threats against his life). Ephesus was a good place for Paul, but God had other plans and Paul followed God.
Too often when some crisis happens that effects our livelihood (job, career, health, etc.) rather than move on (to the next thing we had on our mind if we weren't so tied down), we mourn over what once was and now is lost. I don't see Paul doing that -- he's always pressing on (Philippians3:12), "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Is it time for you to get over what changed in your life and move on?
Questions to Ponder:Take a moment (especially if you are not presently in a crisis), and think about what you would like to do if you weren't so busy with everything else you're presently doing. Write it down, because it will be hard to remember when the crisis comes. I'm not working right now -- I've shared in previous devotions what happened to my career (real estate finance) and business. At first I enjoyed the free time; then I started to worry about not working. I followed the advice I'm about to give you and I began to pursue some of the things I had wanted to do and intended to do "if I only had more time". Now I've got the time. However, my pursuits are not all charitable (serving more at church and other activities), or recreational (traveling and playing more golf), or family oriented (spending more time with my wife and children). Some are business oriented -- "If I wasn't so locked into this mortgage business I would really like to try ________." I'm not saying you should wish for a crisis, just spend more time looking ahead than behind you -- and you will find the blessing in it, just as I have.