Stuck

Have you ever been stuck? Stranded and made to wait? As life is being reduced to house and home, many of us are feeling this. I remember trying to explain to my father, who was 92 at the time, that he would no longer be able to drive his car. He could not accept his new limitation. So much so that he took his car out to drive anyway. None of us want to feel stranded, either with a broken-down car beside the road or in the airport with a cancelled flight.

While reading the books of Acts, these words didn’t catch my attention. It was only later during the process of a deeper study that it all sunk in. Here are the words:

When two years had elapsed… Acts 24:26

Paul had been arrested in Jerusalem. False charges were leveled against him. He endured a plot to take his life and was shuffled around from prison to prison, and forced to stand before the authorities more than once. As his experience is being described to us, those words appear. Two years passed. Just like that. Time gone. Life missed. Talk about being stuck!

For Paul, this was not the first time. He’d been in prison more than once prior to this moment. How would he deal with this? How do we? That question is important for me this week because I was in Peru with my two sons on an adventure we have been talking about for years. We planned to hike the Inca trail together, that beautiful ancient path built by the Incas over 500 years ago. We did the training in preparation. At one point, the trail rises over 14,000ft. I wasn’t looking forward to that part but cherished the opportunity to be with my sons. We had the necessary gear. The night before we were to depart our guide explained the ins and outs, just what we should expect during the 4 day trek. We went to bed expectant and excited.

Where we were headed!

We woke up to find our trek cancelled and what was worse, the country would be closed later that day. No flights would be allowed. Everyone would be confined to their homes and quarters. The decision was made over night. During the last few hours of freedom, we took a taxi to the airport hoping to change our flights and get home before the lockdown. Everyone else had the same idea. It was hopeless. So, we returned to our hotel to receive the news that we might be able to leave on April 1st. Maybe. We were stranded. Completely stuck. (I wish I were making this up, but I’m afraid not!)

Cusco…where we are now!

How could Paul endure what seemed like a completely unnecessary confinement? He explains what he has learned. These words were written from prison in Rome.

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:10-13

First, he knows the support of dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Though he is in confinement he is loved and supported by many. This letter is one he is writing to a church that has reached out to him in love. None of us can live life alone. And, times of stress increase our need for each other. During these days stranded in Cusco, I have had the encouragement of many. I haven’t felt alone. I am so grateful to those that are praying, to those that have tried to help us get home, and most of all for loving friendship in Christ.

I hope this challenges all of us to pick up the phone. Make the call. Send the message. Remind people they are not alone in this. This moment will make us feel more isolated. Let’s seize the opportunity to make connections to let people know they are not alone. You also need to hear the voices of others (and see their faces, even from a distance).

Second, Paul has used these moments to grow his dependence on Christ. He has discovered his weakness and in the process found the strength that God provides. That is his secret. When he is weak, he is strong because then he is resting in Christ. How can we get there? It is not automatic. These times can frighten us or make us bitter or angry. Paul learned contentment by looking to Christ. In his letter, you will not smell even a whiff of complaint, but only gratitude to God. This is the most positive of all of his letters. The message is all joy.

Paul got to the joy of contentment through a deep trust in the love of God. That is what sustains me. It is there where circumstances matter less than the state of our communion with God. Don’t get me wrong. I want to be home, home yesterday. (Two years would be unthinkable! Even waiting until April is tough.) But, God is good and I trust him.

Are you feeling stuck, stranded where you are? How can you use this moment to deepen your trust in the God that has loved you in Christ? How can you learn the secret of being content in any and every situation?

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sandy on March 19, 2020 at 1:34 am

    Two years??? :-/ Growing in trust day by day….

    Reply

  2. Posted by Beth Travis on March 19, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    Praying for you and your boys, Worth! Thanks for sharing your wise words.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Jan and Paul on March 20, 2020 at 1:46 am

    Hi Worth. We are so sorry about your situation but glad you are with your sons at this time. Hopefully you 3 will look back on this adventure and it will have made the bond between you even greater. I know you will be communing with God also.

    We will be praying that you are able to be home before April and that you will continue to be safe and healthy in Peru.
    Hugs to all 3 of you.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Carlos Houstoun on March 26, 2020 at 12:18 am

    my prayers are with you always! hope you are back with us soon!!! take care and thank you for your encouragement.

    Reply

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