16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned …
and He spoke of Jesus and the resurrection saying…
…24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17: 16 -31)
While Paul waited for his friends to join him, he noticed these people of Athens and he saw what was needed. (Real fisherman know their fish.)… so he reasoned.
Paul didn’t go in with guns blazing, trying to take these analytical pagans out. Rather, Paul reasoned with them because he numbered himself as one of them. He reasoned with them because they reasoned. Paul reasoned with them because God loved them, and Paul knew it.
Paul became all things to all men so that by all means he might save some. (1 Cor. 9:22)
Paul didn’t need his own strength. He only needed what he knew firsthand. He didn’t need to be, or tell, or live, any other story other than the one God had given him.
And Paul knew his own story.
He knew the zeal and the intellect he was born with. He knew the danger of replacing God with anything other than Love Himself. Paul knew he had proof: his own life was proof. His story was living, breathing, light-blinding, saving-from-murderous-ways PROOF that God’s love is bent on search and rescue.
Paul knew firsthand that God is not found in gold or silver, or any of the gifts given to this earth… nor any of the good things we fashion for ourselves thinking they might satisfy.
Paul knew whom he had believed and was convince that He is a Good Shepherd, an ever present Helper in a time of need,
… a loving Father, anxiously watching for us, waiting for us, and longing for the day we return home to His arms.
So what does this mean for me? A couple of things…
Number one: I am numbered with the world.
I still set up replacements in my heart for God. I still do things my own way, run down paths of my own making and wonder what the heck went wrong. I still and always need to find my way home nestled safe in God’s love and forgiveness.
Number two: I know what I know.
I know firsthand that God loves this once rebellious unwed girl who found herself with child, shaking her fist in His face spitting, “Don’t you dare harm this child!”… not understanding that it was me that dared, and Him that loved.
I know firsthand that God reached into a darkened hospital room nine months later – despite my fist – and held my broken heart in His. Then spoke Hope and Peace to me as I let that child go to the arms of another.
And I know firsthand that God whispered His name to me when I fell to my knees: Jesus…. the Way back home, the Truth I was searching for, the Life that made my heart whole again.
And all these many years since then, I know. that. I. know… that I can never ever feel at home, or at peace, outside of His arms.
So today, Lord, I’m remembering what I know. Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit… Three for the crucified price of One. You are everything my heart was waiting for… and I will wear my story with honor for the One I know – for the One who set me free.