We just returned home from vacation last night, and before we went to bed, we unpacked suitcases and put clean sheets on the bed. For some reason, those two things always help us to feel like we can relax once we've gotten home. There is something to be said for unpacking like that, so you feel like you are going to be there a while. Getting settled like that just helps it feel like home a little more!
When we go somewhere else on a trip, there are two things you can do with your clothes. The first way is to leave it in the suitcase and then rummage through it as needed, like a raccoon digging through a full trash can. This is how I do it, and then I refold it to pack it up again when it is time to go home. The other way (and probably the best way) is the way my wife likes to do it: she unpacks the clothes and puts them away in drawers. By doing so, she know exactly where everything is and she can easily find it.
I don't know it for sure, but I'm pretty sure that's the way Apostle Paul would've packed and unpacked clothes on his missionary journeys. In Acts 18, he went to Corinth and met some of the locals and "devoted himself exclusively to preaching". That didn't work out so well, so he went "next door to the house of Titius...and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized." After getting results like that, what did he do next?
"So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God." (Acts 18:11)
This is longest recorded stay for Paul, and it makes me wonder what life was like in Corinth all those months. I wonder how he reacted towards the Jews who became abusive towards him, especially since these were his own people that he deeply loved. How did he handle that rejection? I wonder how he avoided becoming arrogant each time he passed by the synagogue and went next door to Titius' house. How did he still have compassion towards the people that rejected him, and in doing so, rejected God? How did he stay the course and keep on speaking? How did he not get afraid of what he would say and how they would react?
Preaching the gospel can be very rewarding and very tricky at the same time. You HAVE to stay true to the Scriptures, expounding on what the Text says and helping people know how the Holy Spirit is applying it to life. You also have to have a healthy fear (aka Awe, Reverence) for the Lord. And if you're going to do it a long time, you had better develop some relationships with people "in the city", people that will stay closely by your side and offer protection when it is needed. Did Paul know he would need all of that when he unpacked his things for 18 months?
God has planted us here in Lake Wales, at 4025 North Scenic Highway. As we continue to reach out to our city, will you pray with us that we will be able to do the same thing?
Paul was willing to go anywhere God sent him and say anything God directed him to say and stayed where God planted him - until He moved him on. As a result, Corinth was turned upside down and transformed by Jesus. I wonder what would happen in Lake Wales if we would do the same?!?