The apostle Paul traveled over 10,000 miles during his lifetime, relentlessly working to take the Gospel to as many places as he possibly could. Did he ever take a break from serving God?
His third missionary journey was the longest, lasting four years. During this time, Paul and his fellow-believers saturated Asia with the Gospel—”He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” (Acts 19: 9-10 NIV).
What an amazing accomplishment! If Paul had ended his missionary journey after ministering in Ephesus, he still would have found a place in history as one of the most influential evangelists and apostles of his time.
But, Paul did not rest on his laurels. Nor did he want any rest for himself. He saw the urgency and importance of his mission, not letting any opportunity slip through his fingers. Whether he was in jail or in the synagogues, speaking to government authorities or religious leaders, badly bruised or in perfect health, Paul’s passion to make Jesus known never waned. He never retired or took a vacation.
Taking a vacation
About two years ago, my family went on a holiday to a ski resort in Lake Tahoe. One morning, I decided to stay in my hotel room and rest, as I had hurt my back trying to learn how to ski the previous day. A lady from housekeeping came to give me a shower cap that I had requested earlier that morning. We engaged in small talk and I could not wait for her to leave. I wanted to lie in bed and watch TV. But, for some reason, our conversation started getting denser, more and more personal.
Still hesitant, I invited her into the room to chat. Within a few minutes, I was so engrossed in her life story that I forgot about my own pain. She had lost two of her adult children. Her husband had abandoned her. Before I knew it, tears were rolling down my cheeks as I saw her cry. I took her hand in mine and asked her if I could pray with her.
After the hotel employee left, I tried to make sense of what had transpired. God had certainly planned my morning for me! He wanted me there, in that very hotel room and at that exact time. For a reason. While I thought I was on a holiday, God sent a specific assignment my way. He wanted me to make myself available to this woman and to show her His love.
We may not be traveling missionaries, pastors, or theologians, but God provides endless opportunities to partner with Him and live out our purpose as His agents on earth. Serving God is a lifelong passion and calling.
Viewing life as ministry
Sometimes, we may get weary after we’ve served in Sunday School, preached to a small group, organized an event, or spent a few days fasting and praying. We may want a break from “serving God” or “doing ministry.”
How did the apostles not tire from the task assigned to them? Did the disciples want to rest and lie low for a while? What was the source of Paul’s inexhaustible source of energy and passion?
Paul did not see his missionary expeditions as ministry. Serving God was a way of life since ministry was not separate from doing life.
God has commissioned us to be messengers of the Good News. He wants us to make use of every opportunity He presents to us—every conversation we have, every activity we undertake, and every mundane interaction—to glorify Him and build His Kingdom (Colossians 3:17).
We do not retire from our calling. We do not take vacations. Our mission ends only when our journey on earth ends.
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24 NIV).
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