Sunday, March 29, 2020

Daily Devotion for Lent 2020 - Fifth Sunday in Lent

Scripture Reading: Acts 21:1-16 (NRSV)

We model safety as some make different choices. 
When children grow older, we eventually let go of their hands.
Paul is making his way back to Jerusalem.  I find it interesting that he stays at Philip the evangelist's house in Caesarea.  Philip was one of the seven chosen to serve from Acts 6:1-6.  Philip's story is contained in chapter 8 which ends with him coming to Caesarea. 

We see Paul coming full circle as chapter 8 begins with Saul's (Paul's) approval of the killing of Stephen.  Then Luke mentions Paul's persecution of the church before moving into Philip's boundary-breaking stories of preaching in Samaria and the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch.

Now Paul is a different person and seeks to return to Jerusalem after performing his own boundary-breaking ministry across the Mediterranean.

The prophet Agabus binds his own hands and feet with Paul's belt.  Would this have been difficult for Paul to see?  Did it remind him of when he first bound believers in his early career?  It was meant as a deterrent but it perhaps emboldened Paul as he may still have harbored guilt over his previous actions.

It could be that Paul knew of the words that Jesus said to Peter as contained in John 21:18:
"Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 
Paul refuses to be swayed by the believers present and they are silenced.  They conclude with "The Lord's will be done."

Sometimes that's all we can say, isn't it?  There may be a situation in which we have no control.  When a person we love is an adult and we respect their ability to make their own decisions, we may give our opinions and advice but in the end, we must allow them to proceed as they think best.  If we don't allow this, we are binding them with their belt and leading them the way we want them to go.  This is often a painful time for parents of young adults.  We would like for our experience to influence them positively.  We may not want them to make the same mistakes that we made.  But what we sometimes fail to realize is that these mistakes helped to shape us to become who we are today.

Is there an adult in your life that if you had the final say, you would make different choices for them?  Is this affecting your relationship with them?  What if, after we let them know what we think, we remained silent on the subject and concluded with, "The Lord's will be done"?

Prayer for the day:

Gracious God,
I need you more now that I am growing older.
Help me to do less talking and more listening,
less complaining and more exclaiming.
Please, no bossing now, 
just watching over and standing by,
but not telling how.
Keep me from moodiness and self-pity;
from repetitious words set me free.
Keep me in tune with the young,
let me be carefree enough to have fun.
Let me not think the world has changed so much
that I grow bitter and out of touch.
Let me use my experience in much living
as an incentive for more giving.
Gracious God, I need you much more now.

Prayer by Charlotte Carpenter, Kansas, 20th Century

Photo by Simply CVR via  Used under the Creative Commons license.

All scripture quoted is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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