The Delay

"I will give you a hearing after your accusers arrive also." Acts 23:35

Paul was taken by Roman escort, from the city if Jerusalem to the city by the sea, Caesarea. Jerusalem, with the Temple Mount, was the seat of Jewish law and worship. Caesarea was the seat of Roman power in the region. It faced Rome and turned its back to Jerusalem. The location was not merely symbolic. It was systemic. Rome was the seat of power, and Paul was now under the protection of its authority.

With the ambush of Paul thwarted by the courageous action of his nephew, and the quick response of the Roman commander, Paul arrived safely, and stood before Governor Felix. He accepted the Roman commander's letter of report, and granted Paul a hearing when his accusers arrived from Jerusalem.

What started out as a five day wait for a hearing, turned into a two year imprisonment. For all practical purposes, Paul was held hostage by Gov. Felix. The Roman governor often conversed with Paul about his faith, but what he heard filled him with fear. In actuality, the delay was a ruse. He was waiting for Paul to pay him a bribe before he released him. See Acts 24:24-26

Paul's Roman citizenship, notwithstanding, it didn't free him from the abuses of the system. Gov. Felix was not above renting out his power to the highest bidder. Like most politicians, he was not for sale, but he could be rented. But I digress.

After the schmoozing lawyer, Tertullus, attempted to butter up Felix, discredit Paul, and throw the Roman commander under the chariot, Paul shared his story with the Governor. He summarized.

"'For the resurrection of the dead, I am on trial today.'" v. 21

"But Felix having a more exact knowledge about The Way, put them off saying, 'When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decided your case.' " v. 22

This was just another delaying tactic. The first was a mere five days. This one would launch a two year period of time in which Paul was assigned to one of God's waiting rooms in the Governor's official residence. During his incarceration Paul would be summoned by the Governor to hear him "speak about faith in Christ Jesus." v. 24

Delay can trigger a dangerous opportunity or a creative crisis. For Paul the delay gave him the freedom to speak about his faith in the most powerful palace, and among the highest officials of the land. He took full advantage of it.

For Felix, what appeared as a place of power and control was actually a mirage. He was not the King, but a pawn on this chess board. The longer he delayed receiving what he heard about "faith in Christ Jesus" the harder his heart became. Eventually he was replaced, and his window of opportunity closed.

Paul's window of opportunity was about to open up. All roads led to Rome, and Paul was on a God-given mission to get there.

Appearances can be deceiving. Paul was in God's waiting room, and so was Felix. Paul used this time to strengthen his faith. Felix squandered his opportunity to put his faith in Christ. Sad, but true, he who hesitates is lost. Felix would have been better served by "Carpe Diem." Seize the day.

Note to self: Never underestimate the blessing of The Waiting Room. God's delay is not a sign of His desertion. Delay is often an opportunity for His intervention. Pray your way through every delay, and the hidden opportunities will be revealed, by the light of The Spirit of The Risen Christ.

Nothing is wasted that is invested in prayer. When delay comes, don't stiff arm it, embrace it. The Waiting Room is where praying people find R.E.S.T. They Release Every Single Thing into God's hands by telling it to Jesus, and giving His Spirit the elbow room to make sense out of the senseless. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!