1 For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our visit with you was not without result. 2 On the contrary, after we had previously suffered and were treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, we were emboldened by our God to speak the gospel of God to you in spite of great opposition. 3 For our exhortation didn’t come from error or impurity or an intent to deceive. 4 Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please people, but rather God, who examines our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-4
Whoever said following God’s direction would be easy? Twenty-five years ago, I felt the undeniable call of God to make a career change. I was stepping from something terrific into something I didn’t fully understand, but I trusted God. I trusted He had prepared me for the challenge and opened the door for me to walk through. But boy howdy, once I was through that door, it was way more difficult than I expected. Let me tell you, there were many times I asked myself, “What have I gotten myself into?”
Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica is loaded with reassuring and encouraging direction. Keep in mind, these were very difficult times. The fledgling church faced enormous pressure from both secular and religious institutions. You have to believe there were times (probably many times) when those Christians would ask themselves, “What have I gotten myself into?”
Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica having just come from Philippi. He had been unfairly arrested, thrown in jail, and roughed up by the secular guards. The Jewish hierarchy sure didn’t come to his defense. Tired of what they perceived to be his trouble making, they wanted him out of town. They spread rumors about him, impugned his motives, and accused him of all sorts of theological errors. You have to believe there were times (probably many times) when Paul would ask himself, “What have I gotten myself into?”
Vision provides clarity, but that’s no guarantee of certainty—and surely no guarantee that things will work out like we plan. Even in the midst of serving God and working to fulfill the vision He has given you, there will be those “What have I gotten myself into?” moments.
Cling to the encouragement Paul gave to the Christians in Thessalonica: success in worldly terms is not your measure of success. We serve to please God with what’s in our heart. See every moment, every situation, every crisis as an opportunity for your faith to shine. When God examines my heart, I hope He sees the fruit of His Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Do you assume that following God’s direction implies everything will “just work out”?
- What pressures do you feel today that cause you to think, “What have I gotten myself into?”
- When you get to that point, where do you go for answers and strength?
The feeling of “what have I gotten myself into?” described above is a feeling we get when we are drowning in pressure. Describe to your children that the feeling of drowning feels like you can’t stay on top of the water and you are sinking down. To help them understand the idea of drowning, play a little game of sink or swim. You can fill up a large bucket, the sink, or even the bathtub with water. Have your kids find objects of different sizes, materials, and weight. Explain to children that when Paul felt like things were difficult and scary for him and he was drowning, he asked God to give him strength and courage. God gave Paul a lot of strength and courage!
Pray for vision and passion in the lives of our global workers to share the gospel. Pray also for the sending church family here, that we will feel the burden of lostness around us and be moved to share.