What makes you feel safe? When can you lie down at night and sleep well, without a care or thought for your physical well-being? When is your heart at peace?
Recently, my friend shared an experience she had years ago. The news had announced the police were searching for an escaped convict who had been seen in her neighborhood. I believe at this time she was single, so her neighbor offered to lend her a gun for the evening, but as she had no experience with one, she declined. She said, “I told God, ‘If you want me to live through the night, I will, and if not, I’ll see you soon!’ I went to bed and never gave it another thought.”
You see, my friend knew she was already in a place of safety because she was living in the will of God. She had surrendered her life to Him and trusted that He was in control over any and everything that could touch her.
Paul learned about that same place of safety through some very distressing circumstances. In Acts 23-24, his accusers, the Jews have landed him in prison in Jerusalem. Paul has a sense of humor as well as a sarcastic bent to his nature; he is stubborn as well, knowing he is in God’s will, and isn’t cooperating. He intentionally stirs them up, stating he “is on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead.” Half the group are Sadducees who don’t believe in the resurrection; the other half are Pharisees who do, so immediately the Pharisees fall for the distraction and start arguing for Paul’s side! This causes such an uproar the Roman commander pulls Paul out and takes him back to his cell for his own safety.
That night, however, God reassures Paul in a vision that he is perfectly safe, and not to worry. God intends for him to witness for the cause of Christ in Rome, and he will see that he gets there safely.
The next day the Jews plot to kill Paul. They come up with a plan of false pretenses so that he is exposed, and forty men swear an oath not to eat or drink until Paul is dead. God is sovereign over the wicked schemes of men, however, and it “just happens” that Paul’s nephew hears of the plot and brings word to the Roman commander. You can imagine the frustration of those forty men when they hear that Paul has been whisked away in the night, under the guard of 470 Roman soldiers! The commander sends him to Caesarea for his case to be heard by the governor, Felix.
Men may plot and scheme and devise evil plans against God’s people, but they are helpless to carry them out unless it is the will of God. Yes, God does at times allow His children to be imprisoned, tortured, and martyred, but this is not because evil gains the upper hand. Paul will eventually die in prison, but not until he has accomplished exactly what God intends for his life. Paul’s days were ordained, just like ours are, and the safest place we can be is in the center of God’s will.
Do you worry about your life? Jesus said that is a waste of your time; you can’t add a single hour to your lifespan no matter how much you worry (Matthew 6:27)! If you walk with Jesus, you are safe, and if your life ends in tragedy, pain, or suffering, it is because God ordained it to be the hallway you walk through that ends in the door to eternal life.
Death is not our enemy. Jesus has defeated it, and Christ-followers will celebrate that fact with great joy this weekend. Death is simply a transition from this evil world into the presence of God, where Jesus waits to embrace us and welcome us home.
Walk with Jesus today.
Listen to His Holy Spirit and live in the will of God.
My friend, I can promise you on the authority of God’s Word, it is the safest place you can be.