2 Timothy 2:9-10 says: 9 And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. 10 So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.
The word of God cannot be chained. What a powerful message. Paul was chained and imprisoned but that didn’t stop him from preaching the Word. Paul had the heart to see others reached and changed by the Gospel and he did not allow anything to hold him back or keep him from that mission. Like a soldier for Christ, he risked his life time and time again. He trusted in the Lord and withstood far more than most of us could imagine while fulfilling the mission Jesus sent him on.
During his life, Paul did an awful lot. One of the things that has always impressed me though is how big of an impact he was able to make during his season in prison/house arrest. Reading the Bible, I often have a hard time understanding the amount of time things actually took and this certainly includes the time in prison for Paul. Mentally, I feel like the stories in the Bible unfolded roughly at the pace I read them but that is not the case at all. For example, in the Old Testament, Abraham had to wait 25 years for God’s promise to be fulfilled through the birth of Isaac. That is a very long time to remain faithful. It is also estimated that Joseph spent 13 years in prison before he was released by Pharoah. Similarly, it is estimated that Paul spent 5 ½ to 6 years of his journey as a Christian in prison, yet, he didn’t allow that to phase him or dissuade him from his journey nor did he use that season as a break from his mission. To me, that is impressive faith. It would be easy for any of these men to become discouraged or waste their time waiting but instead, they made impacts in other ways during their seasons of waiting.
I have heard God instruct me to wait and to be patient before and after a couple of days, I am ready to move on. I am ready to forge ahead following my own will and not His. I think I am far too used to our instant gratification society. I am impatient if my Netflix takes 30 seconds to load. The thought of waiting 25 years for God’s promise to be fulfilled and being patient and faithful in the process is truly mind-blowing for me and my limited perspective. I have a lot to learn and a lot of opportunity to grow when it comes to being patient and waiting on the Lord.
What these verses and Paul’s life journey highlight for me though is that God is faithful and we can trust what he says. It helps me see that we can still be productive, faithful, and on mission in our waiting. It also shows me that as Christians it is important to think outside the box. Just because Paul was stuck in jail it didn’t mean the Gospel was. Paul may have been chained but the Word of God was unchained. Being stuck in jail certainly didn’t mean he couldn’t make an impact. He just had to think outside the box. He needed to find other ways to move forward and he did that through letters. Even though he was under house arrest in Rome, the apostle Paul was able to write the epistles Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. These letters he wrote had tremendous doctrinal and practical instruction. Through them, Paul’s time in prison was a great blessing not only to the churches at his time but also a blessing to all generations that followed all the way up to modern Christians who have learned and benefited from these great works.
So from this, I draw a couple of lessons. First, I need to listen to God and be patient. I need to be ok with seasons of waiting. I need to realize that God’s will and mission is big and that I don’t know all that he is doing. Instead, I need to trust in the position and station He has placed me in. Second, even when I feel constrained by times of waiting it doesn’t mean the Gospel is. I may have circumstances in life that hold me back and keep me from doing exactly what I want or how I want. Those times are not an excuse to fall away from my faith but instead a time to invest deeper in my faith. To faithfully serve God and spread the Gospel within whatever context God has placed me in. I may need to get creative. I may need to think outside the box. I may even need to step outside my own comfort zone but I shouldn’t use my present circumstances as an excuse to not live the life God has called me to live.