The Apostle Paul went to Jerusalem with an offering from the Gentile Christian to the Hebrews Christians. He had been collecting it for some months. He had written a reminder letter to the believers in Corinth (II Corinthians 8 & 9). Apparently the idea originated with them.
As he traveled around Asia Minor (what today is Turkey), his emphasis was his preaching, but he also promoted this offering. He hoped this expression of love from the Gentile Christians would be well received by the Hebrew Christians and unite the church.
His heart and mind were fully engaged. And I expect he fully anticipated the positive effect this expression of love would have on the Christians in Jerusalem.
But when he had been in Jerusalem for about three days, he was arrested. The text (Acts 21) says nothing about the offering. Did he actually deliver it? What happened? Was unity advanced? The Holy Spirit was silent about the gift. The gift got lost in the arrest and the tensions with the legalists (Acts 21:20-25).
And the point is, “What Paul had already done with his freedom — his missionary journey travels and public preaching and much of his writing – would have to be enough to sustain him during his days of incarceration.
And what God has allowed each of His children to do in their prime may have to be enough to sustain them in their days of declining influence.
As I write this – May 5, 2020 – a dear friend is not well. Very active, talkative, interested-in-everything, focused on others, gregarious, hosts hundreds of people to enjoy their pool during Michigan summers. My nickname of affection for him is the Golden Bear. Today, he is too weak to talk on the phone. He wants to do more – he has an “offering” he wants to give. He may have to believe that what he has already done is enough.
A missionary couple we know have been king-makers. They had trained the current leaders of Evangelicalism in Nepal, Myanmar, Philippines, Japan, Thailand,
Laos, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Taiwan and Bhutan. In years past, they taught and orchestrated the education of the Th. M. and Ph.D. candidates who are now leading Asian colleges and seminaries.
Back home now (as of about 2017) in American they continue to influence post-graduate level students via long-distant learning over the internet. But in the last few years, they have had significant health problems. And most recently, their son-in-law has been diagnosed with a very rare (something like 20 cases in all of America) disease which will drain away energy and money.
And the point is, “In their prime, the Evangelical brain-trust of Asia was at their feet. Now, not so much. They still have much to give (and they are giving it), but now their bodies are not so spry; their energy down. They are in danger of letting the current problems eclipse past achievements.
Paul could have been discouraged about being confined. He may have had to say to himself, “I did enough of the big meetings, the big trips, the city-wide, open-air preaching in market places. I am content to write and speak with people who come to me.” It is enough. What Paul had already done with his freedom — his missionary journeys, public preaching and writing – would sustain him through a time of quieter serving.
Life declines, influence dissipates, energies shrivel. As this happens, we seniors need to remember the days of greater influence when we had more strength and endurance to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. What God has done already is enough. And the Lord Jesus Christ is enough. His grand atonement. His faithful guidance. His presence in the Scripture. He is enough. We are enough and we have enough and have done enough.