“When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived in Ptolemais, and we greeted the believers and stayed with them for one day. The next day we left and came to Caesarea; …” Acts 21:7 (NRSV)
Living in the computer age means that some of the “old fashioned” things we used to do, we now do differently. Years ago we went first to our morning newspapers to keep apprised of what is happening in the world and what to expect regarding the day’s weather. Now we can turn on our computers for that information. For years weekly or monthly magazines have arrived in our mailboxes. Subscribers are now offered the option of getting a digital as well as a hard copy. Advantages of this improvement are: reducing printing costs, saving trees and economizing on storage space! We can read from the computer screen. Postcards, our former means of communicating with others while traveling has largely been replaced by a more expedient method! Instead of postcards, people can text as well as send pictures, which can be seen on computer screens immediately or as they are happening. Yes, with ever changing computer technology and advancements in photography, postcards may truly become relics within a few years!
As I read The Acts of the Apostles Chapter 21, I was struck by the Apostle Paul’s recounting of his travels. It reminded me of postcards that you and I possibly have written. You know: “We went here (name of the place) and later we went there (name of the place). While we were here we did this and when we got there we did that.” On our postcards we might also have written: “We’re having a great time and we wish you were here!” We would add those lines because we actually miss their company and we would like for them to share the joy and thrills of our adventures and experiences.
From what we read in this chapter, there is no indication that Paul would have written “Wish You Were Here!” If he had, it would not have been for the purpose of sharing a wonderful experience, but that he might be encouraged by having their company while being imprisoned or experiencing some affliction.
In Caesarea the prophet Agabus revealed to Paul’s friends that if Paul went to Jerusalem he would be bound hand and foot. They were greatly distressed. They tried to dissuade Paul from going there. “… Paul answered, ‘What are you doing weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ Since he would not be persuaded, we remained silent except to say, ‘The Lord’s will be done.’”
In Luke 9:51 we are told that Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem, knowing that a cross awaited him there. It would seem that the Apostle Paul also has set his face toward Jerusalem knowing that imprisonment awaited him there. He will go realizing that being shackled and even dying may be required for his service to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a trip that he knows he must travel alone, but he would like to know that others are praying for him as he goes and that they will accept, as he has: “The Lord’s will be done.”
O Lord, we are inspired by martyrs and saints who have died by remaining faithful to Your call. Give us courage when we are frightened. Give us strength when we are weak. Reassure us that You will not fail or forsake us. And grant us peace so that we may pray: “Your will be done.” Amen.