Though it was probably 20 years ago now, I can remember the moment like it was yesterday. Do you ever do that? You recall exactly where you were when somethingâ€”a word or a thought changed your mind on an issue?
I was at the Buford Highway exit just off I-285 in Atlanta, Georgia. It was early in the morning and I felt “fogged in.” On top of it, the landscape in front of me was even grayer. Much of this area â€œinside the Perimeterâ€ was in need of serious revitalization and I felt like I needed the same in my life.
You know the inner city sceneâ€”flat-painted buildings that range in color from light grey to tan with windows and doors donning iron bars. A few buildings were painted bright orange or red with hand painted logos, but I really didnâ€™t care. I was only focused on me and my problems.
As I sat at the traffic light waiting for it to change, my mind drifted. Spiritual battles seemed to rage on every side, and I felt defeated.
Usually, itâ€™s the little things that trip us up and cause us to doubt the goodness of God. For me, it was an ill word spoken. So, I was thereâ€”discouraged. For all my years of gaining Christian â€œknowledge,â€ I seemed, at the moment, to be operating on very little truth.
Silence met my heart as I sat there thinking about what â€œI could or should do.â€
I could fight back, run, dig a hole and put my head in it. I could be angry, frustrated or be perfectly Christian and smile my way through the situation. The last option didnâ€™t feel right and none of the others did either. I needed Godâ€™s truth to flood my heart and that’s what happened.
Do you understand where I was mentally? Surely, you do. We have all been there! Problems at work, broken family ties, friendships that have dissolved and the list of what can cause us to feel grey goes on.
But in the middle of a series of back and forth self-talk, these words found their way into my thoughts: â€œI have many people in this city.â€
The thought stopped me cold in my mental tracks. But stranger still was that an immediate sense of calm washed over me.
I was not familiar with these words, but I felt like they were a part of some portion of Scripture. If they were, I certainly did not know where this passage was located. What I did know was God’s Spirit was speaking to me.
No apologies here: God still speaks today; but most of the time, we have too much noise going through our minds to hear Him.
As the traffic light changed, I remember my attitude seemed to change. Reassurance does that for you, especially when you sense God is listening to your heart. I couldnâ€™t wait to get to work and discover where this passage was located.
It is in the Book of Acts. â€œOne night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: â€˜Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.â€™ So [the apostle] Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of Godâ€ (Acts 18:9-11).
Boom! There it was! Truth revealed. Essentially, God was telling Paul that he didnâ€™t see the larger picture. He was not aloneâ€”something he was feeling. Others were with him.
Just like we do at times, Paul had become discouraged and afraid. His world was embattled with hatred, oppression, and darkness. Every sort of evil was a-foot in the Roman Empire, and Paul was in the middle of itâ€”seeking to tell others about Godâ€™s saving grace and forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ. This was not a popular theme on any front.
For a brief moment, Paul allowed the impact of his trials to cloud his view of reality and the Savior. But God’s truth brought light to his darkness.
From time to time, we all need reminders that provide the right kind of hope. Paul needed to hear that he was not in this alone, and there wereâ€œmanyâ€ with him. We need truth, too.
Donâ€™t get tangled in the lies of this day and age. Lies are Satanâ€™s folly meant to draw us off course. Stay focused by walking in step with the truth from Godâ€™s Word.
Really, like Paul, we are called to do one thing: tell others about Godâ€™s saving grace. So, we need to get busy while we have light to walk by! (John 12:36)