Acts 9:20-31 (ESV)
20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Saul Escapes from Damascus
23 When many days had passed, the Jews[a] plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall,[b] lowering him in a basket.
Saul in Jerusalem
26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists.[c] But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
Everything, it seems, has seasons. One of the things I enjoy most about living in the Midwest is getting to experience each of the four seasons in all of their fullness. The cold and dark of winter gives way to the light and growth of spring. Before long, the light and growth of spring becomes the heat and length of days of summer. Quickly, the long summer days give way to the changing colors and cooler nights of fall. And soon the sequence starts all over again.
Life, too, has its seasons. Life, it seems, is a series of seasons—some joyful, some sorrowful, some filled with peace, others filled with anxiety. One of the secrets of enduring life seems to be simply waiting it out as one season gradually turns into the next.
There are seasons in the church as well. There are times when everything seems to be going well in the church. And, then there are times when it seems like nothing is going right. It happens in congregations. It happens in synods. It happens in the Christian church around the world.
I am struck by the final verse of today’s reading from Acts. Luke writes, “Meanwhile, the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in number” (9:31). The church was enjoying a good season. But, it had not been all that long since the church was being persecuted by the likes of Saul and others. And, it would not be all that long before the church would experience persecution at the hands of others. But, for the moment, for this particular season, they had peace and were enjoying growth.
Just as there is nothing we can do to control the seasons of the year, so also I am learning the longer I am in ministry that there is very little, if anything, we can do to control the seasons of the church either. The secret seems to be simply to endure, to wait it out, to remain faithful, and to look for God’s gracious activity through it all.
Lord God, through all the seasons of life and through all the seasons of the church, teach me to endure. Teach me to keep the faith. Teach me to be patient. Teach me to look for what it is you are doing in the midst of whatever season it happens to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Written by Pastor Greg Busboom—Lead Pastor firstname.lastname@example.org