Waiting Is The Slingshot Of God
Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. — Acts 13:1-3
So over the last three chapters, we have been following the apostle Peter. We have seen his travels and how they advanced the gospel message for the first time to the Gentiles. Animosity against Christians grows, and devout Jews align themselves with King Agrippa. Peter is then arrested and is divinely rescued and then returns to his home base in Jerusalem.
In chapter 13, we turn our attention back to Saul, who will become a central character for the remainder of the book. Remember Saul is a former persecutor of the church but had a carefrontation with Jesus. He was not initially accepted by the disciples, probably because they were suspicious of his conversion, wondering if it was a hoax! And because he was no longer accepted by both his former Jewish allies nor new Christian allies, he retreats to his hometown of Tarsus. Eventually, Barnabas seeks him out and brings him to Antioch, which is relatively close. He advocates for his testimony knowing that Saul's conversion was genuine and that he could be a huge force for the advancement of the gospel to the Gentiles. Antioch is a growing and vibrant church about 300 miles north of Jerusalem. And this church will become a key church for the expansion of the gospel. It will even appear to steal a little of the spotlight from the Jerusalem church because of its enthusiasm and strategic location for coming missionary journeys.
But want I want you to see something special here. The verse says this:
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
I love this moment because this has to be a special moment for Saul. Saul had lived a very lonely life for just about a decade. If you remember, Saul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus somewhere in the year 37 A.D. Disciples then rejected him, so he retreats to Tarsus, which is way up the coast. He stays in Tarsus until Barnabas finally comes to get him and this lone man vouches for him. Now ten years later, somewhere in late 47 A.D., Saul is finally fully accepted into the community of faith and, in addition, is charged with ministry leadership. And I wonder if this moment in Saul's life was emotional.
I am sure there are some of you today who long for this. You are longing for community. You are longing for a call. Well guess what. God is eager to give you these things. Sometimes, in a season of waiting, it doesn't feel like God is doing much. But you should know when the day comes that the Holy Spirit speaks, you better be ready because you might discover that in that season of waiting, God was only getting ready to slingshot you into the greatest experience of your life. This is exactly what was about to happen with Saul. God had given him ten years of quiet and lonely preparation before the coming twenty years of high-paced adventurous ministry that we'll read about in the coming chapters. So if you are in a season of waiting, enjoy it, get on your knees, and then buckle up. God may be getting ready to slingshot you into the greatest experience of your life.
ASK THIS: Where in your life do you feel like you are in a season of waiting?
DO THIS: Pray and buckle up.
PRAY THIS: God, I am ready to be launched
PLAY THIS: Send Me — Matt Redman.
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