... and he said, "Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you."The last half of that verse resonated with me.
Acts 27:24 (ESV)
Even though I am never really alone, I was feeling alone at that time... I was feeling like I was by myself in the work of the ministry. I knew it wasn't true, but that feeling was working on me and I found joy in these words... especially thinking of our church as a ship and the ones who "sail with me."
I even set it as my background on my several of my devices for the next year...
|"God has granted you all those who sail with you." Acts 27:24b|
I've been a pastor for almost ten years now, and I've had my ups and downs emotionally, and I was in the middle of one of those downs. I read that verse, and though the context has nothing to do with Church, I realized that there is an element of truth to that statement when it comes to my congregation.
You see, there are those who attend Edgewood... they come, they sit, they listen, and they will even serve sometimes. But... But there are Others... Those who... are in it. They are with me. It isn't just that their attendance is better or worse, it isn't that they serve more or less. It is that they have attached themselves to me (for better or worse). I am their pastor, they are my people. They are the ones who... well... "sail with me." And to some degree, God has granted me all those who sail with me: We will serve together on this earth and we will be together in heaven.
It isn't that I think that those who are faithful to me, as their pastor, will be protected more on this earth, or ... as in the case with Paul... will be saved from shipwreck. But then again, maybe they will. Isn't that true with all those who have become part of the body of Christ? Isn't it true of all those who are faithful to God's ways and participate in God's family the way God has prescribed? Isn't that what Paul is referring to in I Timothy 1:18-20? (Aren't those who have made shipwreck their faith the same ones who have rejected being a part of God's church?)
Regardless... I believe (to some degree) that God has granted me all those who sail with me.
If you are not a part of a body of believers... I encourage you to change that. Don't wait for the perfect Pastor to come along. Don't pick your church based on what activities it offers you or your children. Don't hesitate to dive in to the life of a local Church. Don't let your Church life consist of watching sermons online or on TV. Don't substitute the community that you find in a local church with the community that you can find in any other local organization or group of people. Please, please... become a part, get on board, and sail with others of faith.