May 22, 2021
Each day, I reflect upon a word or phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.
“He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance and without hindrance he proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 28:31)
WITHOUT HINDRANCE: The scripture passage above is referring to Paul, the most prolific messenger of all of the Apostles. Take a moment to consider the conditions under which Paul worked:
*Many people feared him. The fear was well-founded, as Paul’s (Saul’s) prior occupation involved persecuting, arresting, and putting to death followers of Jesus Christ. He pushed forward despite the fear he saw in their eyes. He spoke of love and compassion and gave witness to his own conversion.
*Many did not trust him; they may not have feared him because of their faith, but they most certainly did not trust him. He continued to preach God’s mercy and shared how he, too, lacked trust at one time.
*He was arrested and imprisoned multiple times, beaten and chained. Yet, he continued. He wrote letters from prison to churches he had established on his journey. While sitting in prison, he encouraged others. He even proclaimed the Kingdom of God to his captors.
*He had no modern transportation, no email or social media. He walked from town to town and preached the gospel message face-to-face, in both word and deed.
So many things to hinder him, yet Paul operated without hindrance.
With Paul in mind, I am embarrassed by how many things hinder me. Feeling a little under the weather, being in a bad mood, selfishness, opting for the easy path, or holding a grudge against God for prayers I perceive as unanswered — I allow even these minor inconveniences to hold me back. Paul was beaten and imprisoned and yet he persevered.
Think of the hurdle event in track and field. Paul was an Olympic-level hurdler. He raced forward, gliding over each hurdle / obstacle that stood in his way, determined to finish the race.
We can’t all be Olympic-level hurdlers. We can, however, see the finish line and work toward it one hurdle at a time. Some days a hurdle may stop us and even cause us to fall. We will be attempted to step around the hurdle, but that will take us off-course.
We need to allow Jesus to be both our coach and our biggest fan. He will will dust us off, set the hurdle back back in place, and encourage us to try again.
“Without hindrance” does not mean obstacles don’t exist, it means we don’t allow those obstacles to keep us from pushing toward the finish line.