From Cloud Nine to Ground Zero

“And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men…And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.“

Acts 14:11, 19

I recall being a freshman in high school and experiencing my first real Valentine’s Day with someone I was in love with. I had plans of grandeur leading up to the day, and I was looking for the perfect gift. I did not have a lot of money, but I sold my basketball cards so I could arm myself with a gift for the big day.

It was the week prior to Valentine’s Day and Rebekah attended a church banquet with a sister church in the area. She was introduced to someone at the banquet who fit her fancy and she was smitten. She returned to school the following Monday and told me she was not sure if she liked this guy Brad or me. We were dating at the time and the statement she made broke my heart. I thought we were a serious couple headed for marriage one day but the allure of a dashing fellow easily sways the heart of a young girl. I must admit he was better looking, taller, and probably a better catch, but I was still heartbroken. I had never met the guy, but naturally I was not as fond of him as she was. She told me she needed some time and would give me a final answer by the end of the week.

Rebekah came to me at the end of the week and advised me she was going to stick with me. I was elated to hear the news even though her actions earlier in the week should have raised some red flags. Nonetheless, I gladly accepted to continue being her boyfriend despite her fickleness, and we ended up being sweethearts for Valentine’s Day. It seems one day you’re on top of the world and the next one you are a disposable commodity.

I think of Paul and the day he was experiencing. God allowed him to heal a man and he received great reverence from the multitude. The people tried to worship Him, and were even calling him names such as Mercury. It did not take long for the tide to change and the heart of the people to grow angry towards him. Their anger towards Paul grew and they began to stone him. This happened to Jesus as well when He rode in the streets on a donkey and the people cried, “Hosanna” only to cry the very next week, “Crucify Him!”

We live in a world that seems religious but lacks a true relationship with Jesus Christ. They will hail the name of the Lord when things go well, but soon forget Him when things don’t go their way. In this story, Paul, on the verge of death, rose up and continued preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am amazed that his faith was so strong that he rose up and continued on. He did not allow the violent reaction of the people to halt his mission for God, and he shook off the two extreme reactions he had received.

Have you ever been on cloud nine and then at rock bottom the same day or week? Have you had a great Monday and a discouraging Tuesday? Have you had others discourage you in the work of the Lord? Have you allowed that to stop you on the mission God has called you to? Will you rise up and continue on for Jesus Christ or will you be down for the count? I pray you are encouraged by the Apostle Paul to get up and preach the gospel in the most adverse of situations. May we die to both compliments and criticism, and faithfully work to hear God’s words, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”

Stay in the Fight!

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