By Shannon Reese
A few months ago, I was having dinner with a friend who is also a Christian woman leading in a local non-profit. Somewhere between dinner and dessert, she asked me a surprising question.
“Are you going to leave?”
“Leave,” I answered, “What do you mean?”
She went on to say that because of recent politics, economic pressures, concerns over personal freedoms, and a diminishing number of Christians in our state, many of her work-friends were planning their moves.
She wanted to know. Was I planning to stay in our hometown or did she need to find some new friends?
Quickly, I assured her that God hadn’t released me from the work He’d called me to so I was staying put. Although, I’ve learned that it’s often harder to stay put than to move.
In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul talks about staying put in the city of Ephesus, not moving on, even though moving on would have been the path of less resistance.
In his own words, Paul says, “There is a wide-open door for a great work here [Ephesus], although many oppose me.” (1 Corinthians 16:9, NLT). The same verse in the Living Bible says, “for there is a wide open door for me to preach and teach here. So much is happening, but there are many enemies.” (1 Corinthians 16:9, TLB)
Paul could have moved away from his enemies. He could have packed up and travelled to a city with an easier life. But he didn’t.
Instead, he remained in the hard place.
This wasn’t the only time Paul experienced difficulties.
In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul writes,
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28)
Paul experienced firsthand that fulfilling God’s call for your life may be difficult but it may also be full of adventure!
In no way have I experienced anything close to the adventure or opposition that Paul experienced. To be honest, I’d rather not… but I’m willing.
I want to live fully on mission, communicating the life-changing message of the gospel as God opens the door. I want to follow as He leads me. I want to boldly finish the work God has given me to do and I want to fearlessly stand in the presence of those who oppose me. I want to live like Paul because Paul was living like Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Until God closes this door and opens another, I’m staying put no matter how hard it gets.
What about you?