Acts chapter 21

“The will of the Lord be done!” – Vs 14

Those are hard words for me to say sometimes. And I think they were just as difficult for  Luke and the other friends of Paul to say. They had been “begging him not to go up to Jerusalem” (Vs 12). They were so emotional about it that Paul said, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart?” (Vs 13). This was not the first time Paul had been warned by those who loved him not to go up to Jerusalem. In Tyre, the disciples had been informed by the Holy Spirit that Paul was going to suffer. So they tried to talk Paul out of going. But Paul was going to Jerusalem because the Holy Spirit had told Him to go (Acts 20:23), and he knew that “bonds and afflictions” were waiting for him there.

Paul was willing to suffer. He was even ready to die if necessary. He states that clearly in verse 13.

“For I am ready not onlyi to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Paul had been warned. He had prophets give him detailed accounts of what was going to happen when he arrived in Jerusalem. But nothing would persuade him to change his mind. Why? Did Paul have a death wish. I don’t think so. Sure, Paul had the perspective that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 2:21), but that doesn’t mean he was in any mad rush to, as Hamlet once said, “shuffle off this mortal coil.”

Paul was perfectly willing to be in the will of God. Even if that meant …

… being completely misunderstood (Vs 21)

… having his actions misinterpreted (Vs 27-29)

… being mistreated (Vs 30-32)

… or even being mistaken for someone else (Vs 38)

For Paul, God’s will didn’t mean life was going to be a piece of cake, but it did provide peace of mind in the midst of difficulty. God’s will wasn’t about avoiding trials at all costs, but accepting trials as part of the cost of serving Christ. That’s why Paul was able to say, “I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I might gain Christ, and may be found in Him” (Philippians 3:8-9).

When God’s Will Isn’t Our Way

I love what Luke records in verse 14. He says, “And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent.” Luke includes himself in the group of those who were weeping and begging Paul not to go to Jerusalem. He did not want to see his good friend and brother in Christ suffer. So he begged Paul not to go. But when Luke realized that Paul was determined to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, he finally said, “The will of the Lord be done!”

Many times in my life I have found God’s will in direct contradiction to my way of thinking. His plan did not fall in line with my desires. Sometimes I have found tough times have remained when I have asked them to be removed. I have seen my prayers go unanswered (seemingly) and my worst fears come to fruition. But at no time in my life can I look back and say that my way would have been better than God’s will. Because He always knows best. He always does what is best. And while Luke and the other brothers and sisters of Paul could see no value in Paul going to Jerusalem, they were willing to commit their way to the supremacy of God’s will. They let Paul go, and with him, they let go of their need to have things go their way.

Father, continue to teach me to trust Your will. Help me to let go of my need to always have things go my way. Keep me focused on the bigger picture of Your divine plan and not my short-sighted view of my circumstances. I won’t always understand, but that’s OK. I just need to learn to trust You more! Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org