"Agrippa told Festus, ‘[Paul] could be set free right now if he hadn’t requested the hearing before Caesar.’" Acts 26:32 (TM)
I often think of a movie I watched many years ago called Sliding Doors. In the movie, a young woman is on her way to work. She is hurrying to make her train. The train is getting ready to pull out of the station as she sprints towards the open doors of the railcar. The doors begin sliding shut. At that point, the movie splits and shows us what would have happened in the womans life if she makes the train as well as what her life would have been had she missed it. The point of the movie is a fascinating one. The course of our lives hinge upon a myriad of everyday choices and events.
Paul, fearing that he would be handed over to the Jewish leaders by the Governor Festus, had appealed his case to Caesar. He set in motion the cogs and wheels of the massive Roman justice system. He was now bound to go to Rome and have his case heard, knowing that he might spend years in a Roman prison waiting for his case to make it’s way up the docket. Today, we read that Governor Festus and King Agrippa would have set Paul free had he not made this appeal. With his choice to appeal to Caesar, Paul sealed his fate. Despite what might have been, Paul is going to Rome to languish in prison and to lose his earthly life.
We can go crazy worrying about every choice we make. We can become paralyzed by anxiety and fear wondering how our lives would be different if we had made another choice. Constant wrangling over what might have been drains us of life energy. God is at work in the midst of all our life choices and in each of the events of our lives. He is present with us in the here and now and His purpose will ultimately prevail. He knows that plans He has for us. The question, for me, is not, "What might have been?" but "What shall I do with what is?"