Paul's stopover in Ephesus is a part of his journey toward Jerusalem and ultimately his death ~ things that were clearly understood by Paul and communicated to him by various means. Just prior to his arrival in Ephesus he had a brief visit to Cenchrea where he had his hair cut off in obedience to a personal vow he had made. Arriving in Ephesus he is confronted with a group of people who wish that he would stay with them. Paul's reply is straightforward and simple. "I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” (Acts 18:21 NKJV)
This snippet is deeply impacting to me as I pursue the will of God via Mission Senegal. Over the past 8 years I have been profoundly blessed to have been able to pastor an amazing church. While there have been highs and lows, joys and sorrows, it has been an amazing journey that sadly has come to closure. It is a step that did not come easy and is a faith response to the will of God in reaching souls with the Gospel who otherwise would not be reached.
From Paul's encounter in Cenchrea and Ephesus there are a number of important things that reverberate in my spirit and that must be an active part of our pursuit of God's will and plan for our life.
Paul had a vow. Paul had made a commitment that was to be kept at all cost. If one is not absolutely committed to the will of God, other things will slow you down and even stop you from achieving it in your life. Keeping our vows toward God can make us outsiders to the masses, as Paul's haircut no doubt made him stand out in the crowd. Yet one thing was capital, and that was the will of God!
Paul knew when to say "no" to certain requests. While it is never easy to step away from the things that others may desire for you and your life, there is a precedence that the Will of God must assume in our life. It will force us at times to make unpopular decisions but will lead us deeper into and closer to the plan of God.
Lastly, Paul knew how to say “Good-bye”. Sadly the pursuit of the will of God will often cause us to leave one locale to take up residence in another. No one likes change. No one likes moving. No likes saying or even hearing good-byes. Yet they are an inevitable and demand of us the greatest grace possible. In those moments, our weakness is made strength as we discover, once again, that His grace is sufficient for us!