At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul, and for that reason he used to send for him very often and converse with him. After two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and since he wanted to grant the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison. Acts 24: 26-27 (NRSV)
Over two years Paul was imprisoned by Governor Felix. Over two years he lived under house arrest. No crowds got to hear Paul speak. Paul did not get to journey from town to town speaking to and encouraging fellow believers. For over two years Paul basically had an audience of one Roman Governor and his wife who would occasionally send for him to have a conversation.
I’ve learned along life’s road that God’s ways are not always our ways. We tend to look at Paul’s imprisonment and think what a waste to have Paul languishing under house arrest when there were so many other things he could have been doing with his time and talents. I wonder if Paul thought that too, or if he was content knowing that he was right where he was supposed to be and doing what he was supposed to do.
Sometimes we have to trust that God knows what He is doing with the use of His resources.
I come from a family of craftsmen. I’m very proud of this tradition. From my great-grandfather who started as a boy making wood dowels in South Holland and ended up running a hardware store in northwest Iowa, to my grandfather who taught shop class, my father who is a more than capable woodworker, and my brothers who make a living as craftsmen in artistic trades. I, however, didn’t fit into the mold. When it comes to home improvement and do-it-yourself projects, I confess my shortcomings. It’s not that I can’t do it. It’s just that I’m admittedly not very good at it. I only have to look at the nugget of King Solomon’s wisdom quoted above to understand why.
When it comes to do-it-yourself projects I don’t have a natural knack for it and I get impatient. I start out with enthusiasm and a gung-ho spirit, but I quickly find myself frustrated and wishing I was doing something else. If I run into an obstacle I push forward in an effort to “git ‘er done” instead of stopping and investigating the best way to proceed. A major mistake and several trips to the hardware store later, I’m even more frustrated and it’s cost me more time and money than anticipated. My return on investment for doing it myself starts to wear perilously thin.
I’ve learned over the years to accept certain truths about myself with humility. There are areas of life in which I am talented and gifted. There are areas of life that I am more than capable. There are areas of life that I am not as capable, and some things in life I should avoid like the plague.
Wisdom is knowing when to do-it-yourself and when to pay a professional.
All we’re saying is that God has the first word, initiating the action in which we play our part for good or ill. Romans 9:18 (MSG)
One of our friends is a talented actor with a marvelous voice. She has often found herself cast in smaller “bit” parts when I suspect her heart truly desired a leading role. Yet, time and time again she turns her handful of lines and precious few minutes on stage into memorable moments that steal the show. It’s her “bit” performance that I hear audiences talking about as they leave the auditorium.
As I’ve helped countless times with the audition process, I’m struck by those individuals who feel that bit parts are beneath them. I get it. My pride leads me to want the spotlight, too. Nevertheless, some of the smaller parts have been the most fun, and are the ones people continue to remember and talk to me about years later.
God is a great casting director. He chooses just the right players for the roles he needs to move the action the way He intends. I don’t always get it. His choices sometimes leave me scratching my head. Nevertheless, I have learned not to worry so much about the other roles. My joy is to be found in pouring all that I am into the role that I’m given – even if the part is a “supporting” role and not a “starring” one.