Because the Jews made a plot against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. But we sailed from Philippi after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days.
Thoughts for Today:Paul had learned of a plot against him perpetrated by the Jews just before he was about to set sail for Syria. Rather than putting himself at risk on a ship crowded with Jewish pilgrims heading to Jerusalem for the Passover, he instead divided his party, choosing to go overland and thereby retracing his steps through Achaia and Macedonia. By doing so Paul demonstrated that he had both the courage and faithfulness to continue on with his mission, yet the wisdom and prudence (defined as caution and good sense) to choose an alternative route -- all the right ingredients required for a successful outcome.
This reminds me of a story I once heard: It seems that a hundred year storm had come to a certain area and town in the mid-west. As the rain continued to fall, the river rose, threatening to overflow its banks and flood the town. The heavy rain drops beat down upon the roof of the sole church in town as the pastor -- full of passion made his concluding points with pounded fist -- "The Lord will provide a way out from any circumstance -- all that is needed is faith!" At the conclusion of the service, as the people filed out a man ran up to the steps of the church holding an evacuation order -- the levy was about to break and the flood waters would soon be upon them. One of the church deacons had his car, packed and waiting in the parking lot; he offered a ride to safety, "You're welcome to come with us pastor; we're going upriver to my sister's house." The pastor smiled and said, "Jim, you must not have listened too carefully to my sermon today -- the Lord will provide a way out -- all we need is a little faith!" The deacon replied, "Okay pastor have it your way, but I need to protect my family." And off he went. The river continued to push over its banks, and now the streets were filled with water. The fire department sent a boat to the church and called out to the preacher, "Pastor, we're all leaving, come now -- the levee is about to break." Still the pastor replied, "Go on, don't worry about me, the Lord will provide -- I have faith!" The water continued to rise forcing the pastor to climb onto the roof. A helicopter looking for people stranded by the flood waters spied him on the roof of the church and called out to him, "Pastor, the levee has broken; you only have a few seconds before the whole town is washed away, grab the rope and climb aboard." The pastor resolutely replied, "I have faith, the Lord will provide a way out!" Sure enough, the levee broke, the town and church were washed away and the pastor drowned. As the pastor entered through the gates of heaven he asked for an audience with the Lord. Kneeling in front of the Lord yet clearly frustrated, the pastor inquired, "Lord you know I have been your faithful servant for over sixty years and I have steadfastly preached your Holy Word to my flock. You heard my sermon today, yet you didn't provide for me in my time of need. Why did you let me drown?" The Lord patiently smiled and answered, "I provided a car ride, which you declined; so I sent a boat instead; and finally a helicopter, but you declined that as well. What more did you expect?"
Indeed that is the question: What do we expect, or rather what should the Lord expect of us? How about a little wisdom and prudence mixed in with courage and faithfulness? If we do, we might just find the elusive answer to our prayer is right in front of our face.
Questions to Ponder:The pastor had courage and faithfulness yet was lacking the right proportion of wisdom and prudence. Too often we place limits and boundaries upon the Lord then complain when the results don't quite meet our expectations. Has the Lord been answering your prayers, but you've been blinded to it because of your own expectations? Are you a little out of balance? What else do you need to mix in? Courage, faithfulness, wisdom, prudence or something else? What current situation in your life requires these qualities?