Some of you may be saying, “Paul who?” I was vague, but I’m referring to the Apostle Paul. Now some of you are possibly joining those who are saying, “When did you get so smart? Of course the Apostle Paul believed.” But here me out. I’m talking about one incident in his life when he chose to believe over fearsome evidence.
Saul believed the words of Moses. He showed unparalleled zeal in defending God’s word to Israel as taught him by the Scribes and Pharisees. He excelled above all others in persecuting the church. He believed again when he encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. He learned and taught the buried, forgotten truths in God’s word concerning Christ.
Paul also believed when God told him that he would go to Rome and proclaim the gospel. His belief was tested and proved firm on the island of Malta. Having survived a shipwreck, Paul then was bitten by a most deadly viper when it came out of the firewood he had gathered.
When the island natives saw the snake, they concluded Paul must be a very evil man who could not escape justice. When the shipwreck couldn’t kill him, the snake made sure he wouldn’t escape. They reversed their opinion of Paul when he didn’t fall down in seconds and didn’t swell up in minutes. They called him a god.
For Paul, he had a word from the Lord. He knew nothing could hinder its accomplishment. The deadly snakebite was of no more significance to him than a fly landing on his hand. He shook the snake off into the flames where it died instead of him. Paul chose to believe and his vision and purpose lived.
I’ve struggled the past week with doubts and rejection. I sat in front of a blank screen willing words to come out of me and onto the page. I pulled up old drafts to edit and closed them when I felt they were beyond help. My vision and purpose seemed as dry as last years’ cornstalks. Then I read about Paul on Malta. These words — this blog — is the result of choosing to believe.
Paul has a word for us when fears of rejection, lack of direction, doubts and any other obstacles arise to hinder us. He said that Jesus began a good work in us, and he is able to complete it. Even when faced with crushing evidence like what Paul experienced at Malta, I will tell myself, “Choose to believe.” Then I will see what God will do.
“As the curator of The Upper Room Chapel and Museum, it is my task to highlight art and draw the viewer into the work itself. On clear days, the art is outside The Upper Room Chapel: gorgeous pink blossom clouds of the Japanese Magnolia trees. The blossoms don’t last very long. If you are in the Nashville area, take a few minutes to stop by and enjoy them. ‘We recognize God’s presence in the world around us,’ the author of The Mystic in You says. ‘Sometimes it comes because of our intentional spiritual practices. Other times, it comes when we least expect it and do not feel as though we deserve it. … Geese flying overhead and a dog running in its sleep become windows into eternity when we pause, notice and open to the wonder of all being.’ Sometimes it is in a pink cloud of blossoms.”