Pray for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 (NIV)
And please pray for me, that God will open a door of opportunity for us to preach the revelation of the mystery of Christ for whose sake I am imprisoned. Pray that I would unfold and reveal fully this mystery, for that is my delightful assignment. Colossians 4:3-4
WORDS AND DOORS
Sitting in a dark and damp prison may not strike us as a starting place for penning a large portion of the New Testament, but prison was Paul’s starting place. Chained to guards, Paul was almost immoveable. Prison life had become his new normal. But first it was his unfamiliar.
The correlation here is that sometimes a change in our circumstances can leave us feeling confined. Have you ever felt restricted, boxed in, trapped! Ever felt confined to a season of life that you thought would never end? Most of us have.
Even in Paul’s unfamiliar times he remained true to who he was in Christ – Teacher! He taught his prison guards and won them to Jesus. Then he began writing letters to the churches he had started. Just because his circumstances had dramatically changed did not mean his call to preach the Gospel or mentor leaders in the churches was cancelled.
In prison Paul kept his perspective in the context of the bigger picture. His compassion was sharing the Gospel and its power to transform lives. In unfamiliar places, our uniqueness and strengths have to find a way to express themselves for the benefit of others. Like flood waters finding avenues to flow, we have to find avenues where our strengths can flow.
Reaching out in difficult times is a necessity. Otherwise we become inwardly focused. Turning outward to help others makes us resilient in the unfamiliar times. Paul found that leveraging God’s grace kept him resilient. He learned that when grace runs deep, doors open and words come. That’s why they were Paul’s number one prayer requests. He wanted others to learn to do the same. Paul knew that if life became only about him and the conversations recycling in his head, his life would become a stagnant reservoir of memories. He had to find ways to reach out. He had lived laser-focused on finding the right words to minister in the good times. That practice paid off in his difficult times. He lived ready when doors opened. Sometimes he opened them with his words.
Where are the needs around you? Who can you surprise and encourage today? Who has isolated themselves near you that need the vibrant strengths you have? The same God that Paul served, we serve. The same God who opened doors and provided words for Paul will do the same for us. Reaching out in unfamiliar times will keep us true to our calling.