As a Christian, I have prayed for many opportunities to share the word with people. There has not been a prayer that I have prayed more that to be able to share the Word with those I was good friends with in high school. As most of you know, I have a rather “checkered” past (that’s putting it mildly). If you’re visiting today, I was a drug addict, and a just a generally not good person. As I travelled to Maryland this past weekend, God answered that prayer. In fact, to the glory of God and God alone, there were about thirty people I got to share the good news with.
Now, I’m not going to go into details to keep details and things confidential. But the point I want to make is this: If you want an opportunity to share the gospel with someone you love and you pray for it, then God will set things in motion to make that happen. God is fully aware that you have people in your past that you want to share with, but feel that you will never have the chance. I thought that too, but God blew my mind. If you actually think about God gives us those kind of opportunities every single day.
Is there someone in your life that you really want to talk with about Jesus? Its not something new. We want to share what we love! In Scripture there is a great example of this. It’s also a great example of God’s faithfulness and love for people. The Apostle Paul writes this to the church at Rome:
“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles” (Rom. 1: 11-13).
He writes later in chapter fifteen,
“23But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you (Rom. 15:23)
Do you see Paul’s desire? Do you hear in his words his heartfelt longing to be with people he loved in Rome? We also can see in Scripture that the visit to Rome didn’t go down as Paul had planned. How did Paul get to Rome? In chains. IN Acts 22, Paul is brought to trial before the Sanhedrin and others, and he’s smart. He lets them get a few blows in then he asks,
“Is it legal for you to flog a Roman Citizen who hasn’t been found guilty?” (Acts 22:25).
That is a total game changer because whoever ordered the beating could be in some serious trouble. So Paul presents His case to Felix, who keeps him in prison for 2 years, then presents his argument to Festus who succeeds Felix. He then asks Festus to appeal to Caesar. Now, this was the trump card. This appeal by a Roman citizen bypasses the local proconsul, the governor, and goes past the Roman Senate straight to Caesar himself. (Acts. 25:1-12), Then Paul testifies to a visiting ruler, King Agrippa, (Acts 26).
So Paul is sent, under guard mind you, chained and bound to soldiers, and put on a ship. It crashes and Paul is left in the open sea after a really cool sermon in Acts 27. Paul then, after some island hopping and conversions, and finally arrives at Rome. Acts 8 says this about Paul’s arrival in Rome:
The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged. 16 When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him” (Acts 28:15-16).
He made it. But it wasn’t the way he wanted it. However, He lived out the rest of his days there and was executed at the hand of Nero by beheading…but Paul got the opportunity to share with those friends and people who he had prayed for years to be able to be with. So if you think it is impossible to go back into the past and love those people whom you have been away from, to love them like Jesus, remember this: with God, all things are possible.