“But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen-that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike” Acts 26:22-23 (NLT).
There are certain moments in life when time freezes – my wedding day was one, the birth of my children and also those first few months of their newborn lives. In those moments, it can feel as if we are floating in some sort of bubble – feeling every sense around us so strongly and living in the moment so intensely.
This past week was one of those frozen moments in time for me. I had to say goodbye to my Grandmother who left this earth after 92 years of life. Her battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD) left her with frail lungs and numerous health issues that followed.
It was a full week of phone calls to loved ones, meetings with clergy, gathering photographs and memories to share with friends and family. In all the busyness, it’s hard to step back and process the very deep loss of no longer being able to see her or hug her again. In these times it becomes clear how important it is to lean on God.
In finishing the last five chapters in the Book of Acts (24 through 28), it is so evident how important it is to turn to God in our times of struggle. These last chapters give such a beautiful description of Paul’s devotion and intent in teaching others the Word of God and the benefit of knowing the gift of Christ.
Paul faced trial and judgment from many Jews in Caesarea (now known as the Middle East), accusing him of being a “troublemaker” who was constantly stirring up riots among the Jews (see Acts 24:5). His response was that his intent was to worship in the Temple and he explained his reasons for following God’s Way (see Acts 24:10-21).
Despite Paul’s beliefs and his attempts in proclaiming the Good News, he was imprisoned for two years in Caesarea by orders of Felix, the governor at that time. Paul faced two years as a prisoner not knowing what his fate would be. He put his faith in God that he would be protected. Continuing on in the Book of Acts, we see Paul face trial in Jerusalem and a very serious shipwreck at sea on his travels back to Rome where he then spent two years under house arrest. Through all of these trials, God was with Paul and he went on “boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him” Acts 28:31 (NLT).
This is such a lesson to us all of how important it is to lean in on God in times of struggle. Having been given the privilege of writing my Grandmother’s eulogy, I was able to reflect on that intently. It was a chance for me to honor the gifts and blessings that my Grandmother passed down to many generations in our family.
It was a reminder of how precious life is and how special it can be if we allow God to be a part of it. My Grandmother believed in the power of prayer. She prayed and was always thankful to God for the many blessings He provided in her life. I believe at the end of her life, she was able to take her last breath knowing she would be at rest in eternal heaven with God.
Dear Father, help me to remember Paul’s example and teaching in times when I struggle in my faith. I am sorry for the times when I choose to follow my way instead of yours. Thank you for providing me with a Grandmother who was a beautiful example of reflecting what is most important in life – Faith, Family and Love. Help me to teach others through the Holy Spirit and guide them closer to you. I ask this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.