In October, I went to Greece to walk the ground that the Apostle Paul walked, including Islands and a stop at Ephesus in Turkey. I had an experience on the way home that cemented the trip in my mind and how God wanted to apply it to my life.
The plane was full for the 2 hour trip to our connecting flight except for the 2 seats next to me. I said a prayer that God would place someone there I needed to connect with. A woman and her youngest daughter age 21, sat down. Andrea was very friendly. She was going home to North Carolina. She had grown up in Greece of a big farm with about a hundred sheep, chickens, and a cat. She had come to Greece to visit the old farm and her family.
“What were you doing in Greece,” she asked. I explained the pilgrimage of me and my brothers and sisters in Christ. I showed her the map of where we had been. (show map). Have you been to these places?
“Of course” she said. “Many times.”
“Have you heard of the apostle Paul? I asked.
"No." She answered.
"He is the one of the reasons I am a Christian today. He is the reason that the life of Jesus is all over the world through God’s spirit through the church which grew all over Greece 2000 years ago.
I started to tell her about his adventures and then I realized I had to start with Jesus, who she said she knew, and how Jesus came and died and was resurrected. He went into heaven and sent his holy spirit to live in those who would believe. Thousands believed on that day and the first church was formed.
Paul came on the scene and persecuted thousands of Christians because they thought he was coming to change the status quo of their beliefs and laws they were trying to follow. He and his cohorts saw Christians as enemies.
I then described about the light Paul saw and how God spoke out loud to him on the road and he became blind and he believed. The church, tho flabbergasted at the turn of events, disciple Paul and he was called to be the one who took the gospel. Imagine that. He took missionary journeys first to places God led him to in Israel, and through Israel, Greece, and Italy and how he was persecuted mercilessly in every city. His message was changing the lives of thousands of people, one by one, and causing disunity because of the contrasting message of the resurrected Christ and their ancient Gods and beliefs that had been cemented into structured religion in these massive powerful cities."
The fun part of our conversation was when I passionately told her about the letters that are in the Bible that Paul wrote to Philipi, Thessaloniki, Corinth, Ephesus. These are powerful books that God inspired Paul to write. We follow them today. He wrote them initially to teach the churches and keep them in the truth.
She was in awe. "I’ve heard of Romans. What about that? " she commented.
"Yes, Paul wrote to the Romans, too because he had established a church there."
She kept leaning into me and asking to know more.
"I can’t wait to go home and read the Bible. I haven’t read it in years and years. My kids are grown and I have time."
"Start with Acts" I said, "and then read the letters."
I will! She said.
"The words of God are alive", I said. Remember to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you before you read.
Paul writes: “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom but on God’s power.” Read the rest of I Corinthians too and it gets better."
I have a calling to where I am. I don’t have to go anywhere. That’s not to say, God may specifically call me elsewhere. I won't think about that I hear that call.
My neighborhood. My job. My family. My church.
I have grown in these years to truly know Jesus and his POWER in me in the midst of my weakness.