Sounds pretty simple on the face of it. Pretty matter of fact. “And so we came to Rome.” It is a small sentence with a lot of history behind it for Paul.
Isn’t that the way it is for all of us who serve Christ and walk in what we believe are His objectives for us?
I don’t know about you, but I envy those people who speak of God’s direction in their lives as if they have 110% confidence they have heard correctly. I hope this doesn’t discourage anyone, but for me, hearing God is more a matter of being 70% or 80% or sometimes even 99% sure, that I have heard correctly.
I never put the blame on God.
It’s just that I am keenly aware of my humanity and how easily I am influenced, even in my ability to hear God, by my emotions or my circumstances. I’m just grateful for how patient He has been with me through the years.
It is sobering for me to think about how much came between Paul’s “I must see Rome,” in Acts 19:21, and “And so we came to Rome,” in Acts 28:14.
Imprisonments. Severe opposition. Beatings. Church planting. Stoning. Illness. More Church planting. Stronger opposition. Riots. And more Church planting.
On one occasion, Paul tells the believers in Rome that he has often been hindered from coming to them (Romans 15:22). One another occasion, he says that Satan prevented him from coming to them.
You know there had to be times he doubted that he would ever make it to Rome. Face it, he was a mighty man of God, but dealt with the same humanity that you and I have to work through.
I think this is the very reason Jesus Himself appeared to Paul in a prison cell, in a dungeon underneath the Antonia Fortress in Jerusalem, and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about Me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” (Acts 23:11)
There was a whole lot of stuff that happened between “I must see Rome,” and “And so we came to Rome.”
There was even more stuff that happened after Jesus assured Paul that he would make it to Rome. Two years in Herod’s prison in Caesarea. Storm and shipwreck. Floating on pieces of junk in the Mediterranean. Swimming for shore. Cold and wet. And then bitten by a snake while building a fire.
What kept Paul going had to have been that “word” he got from the Lord in the dungeon in Jerusalem, that had confirmed Paul’s original dream to go to Rome with the Gospel.
There are times all you have to go on is a dream from the Lord, concerning what will be. Then, there are other times that God shows up by His Spirit and confirms that dream with a word of encouragement.
Hold on to those dreams and words in an attitude of humble prayer, listening for His voice at every turn in the road.
There will be left and right turns along the way (the call to Macedonia…a long way from Rome). There will be opposition, stonings, sickness, even shipwreck.
Don’t be discouraged.
And along the way, build Jesus’ Church.
Don’t wait until you get to Rome to build the Church. By the time Paul finally got to Rome, the wake he left behind him was filled with thriving churches.
Hold on to the dream until it can be written of you, “And so we came to Rome.”