The Hurry

"For he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost." Acts 20:16

Last night, I caught a plane out of Little Rock, Arkansas, and arrived in DFW airport. I was in a hurry to get home, and spend the night in my own bed. There is, simply, no place like home. It can't be replaced by the romance of travel, or the rented luxury of a great hotel. After all, renting a bed rarely provides the rest that is received from spending the night in one's own.

The airports were crowded with people trying to get home for Christmas. Students who had wrapped up finals were ready for relief, and trading college life, for Mom's cooking. They were on a mission. I talked to two young men from Glasgow, Scotland who were trying to connect in DFW for a flight to Heathrow. I wish I could tell you what they said. Their brogue was so thick I needed an interpreter. Still, the message in their eyes was very clear. They would be home for Christmas. The joy that it brings it brings to the heart is the same in any language.

This morning, when I read these words, my mind recalled the frantic and frenetic hustling, and bustling, and the scurrying and hurrying, I saw last night at both airports.

"For he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost." v. 16

My first thought was, "I know what that feels like." Then I continued reading, and realized I had no clue what Paul was talking about.

As Paul addressed the elders of the church, and prepared to leave them for his trip to Jerusalem, he revealed that he sensed a new level of intense warfare was waiting for him, not the warm welcome of a family reunion. Paul was not going to see a welcome mat. He was about to become a door mat. Big difference.

"And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me." v. 22-23

WOW! As I read this piece of information, I found myself saying aloud, "Paul, slow it down!" It is one thing to be in a hurry for a birthday party. It is another thing to be in a hurry for a neck-tie party.

The Spirit had made it clear to Paul that he was to go to Jerusalem and face another level of spiritual warfare. He didn't hit the brakes, to slow down. He turned his face toward the sound of the guns, and picked up the pace to race to the battle line.

Paul reviewed with the elders of the church, his experiences with them in Asia. It was a prelude to what was ahead of him.

"I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came through the plots of the Jews;, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem." v. 21-22

Paul was seasoned and scarred by the skirmishes of spiritual warfare in Asia. He was about to be sent on what looked like MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. He was not going to be facing the wrath mounted by those stationed in distant outposts. Paul, "bound by the Spirit" was going to be taking the fight to HQ.

The "trials and the tears" of the past were only a foretaste of the challenges that were in front of him. Still, Paul was...

"...hurrying to be in Jerusalem." v. 16

Note to self: Stop whining. Be like Paul when you grow up.

Just in case, I was confused about the meaning of the word "hurry", I got out my Greek interlinear dictionary. It confirmed that this is the same word that is the source for the English word, "speed." It is the same word used to describe the passion of the shepherds who made haste to get to Jesus in the manger.

Apparently, the way we come on is the way we are to go on. The shepherds didn't delay to obey the directions they received, neither did Paul. Bound by the Spirit involves setting one's face in the right direction, and picking up the pace to get there. It is not about dragging one's feet with creative excuses and delaying tactics.

Note to self: #2 - Praying your way to obey something you already know God intends for you to do is prideful rebellion posing as pious reflection. Stop it!

"Delayed obedience is still disobedience." Henry Blackaby

Paul's prayer life kept him lashed to the Person of The Spirit of the Risen Christ. Too many people misread the price tag that the blood of Jesus Christ placed upon them. They look at it and read, "Expensive." The Spirit looks at it and sees, "Expendable."

In the 1980's there was a TV commercial that focused on motivating that decade's version of the "ME Generation" to indulge themselves in the delusion that they were very special. The catch phrase was this, "Sure it's expensive, but I'm worth it." This is a terrible mission statement for a child of God.

That Madison Avenue pitch sums up what most people believe about themselves. When they receive what they perceive to be their salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, they may accept His gift graciously, but at the same time devalue His grace. They forget they didn't deserve it.

Rather than seeing themselves chosen as an expendable soldier in the battle against evil, they keep looking for the rank, privilege, position, and VIP seating on the float in the victory parade. In their estimation, others are expendable. They just happen to be expensive. After all, they were worth it.

Paul saw himself through the eyes of The Spirit of Christ. Anyone who sees themselves any differently needs a heart transplant, not new glasses.

"But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God." v. 24

Paul warned the elders of the church of Asia, that he would not be the only one who was going to have to take it up a notch. They too were about to enter into a new level of spiritual warfare. As he left the scene, powerful forces would move in to steal the sheep in their flocks.

"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years, I did not cease to admonish each one with tears." v. 28-31

Prayer doesn't prepare a person for spiritual warfare. Prayer is the weapon of warfare. If you are in it to win it, don't be in a hurry to enter into it without taking up the weapon of prayer. You must use this weapon with the regularity and the intensity that comes with taking your next breath. Any weakening of the regularity and the intensity of prayer leaves a person vulnerable to the confusion, the chaos, and the consequences of spiritual warfare.

Martin Luther is often quoted as saying, "I have so much business today, I must spend the first three hours in prayer." He fell a bit short. He still had 21 hours left. Praying and breathing are essential to those who are in a hurry to meet the challenge of a MISSION: Impossible assignment. It is not courage to rush in where angels fear to tread. It is utter foolishness.

Prayer turns MISSION: Impossible into MISSION: HIMpossible. Paul came to the conclusion that he did not have to survive the battle, he just had to race to it, and take his stand in it. We should do the same. If you are in a hurry to make a name for your self, check your price tag. It says "EXPENDABLE." If you are in a hurry to make a difference, expend yourself. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!