After they had set a day to meet with him, they came to him at his lodgings in great numbers. From morning until evening he explained the matter to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the prophets. Some were convinced by what he had said, while others refused to believe. So they disagreed with each other; and as they were leaving, Paul made one further statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah, ‘Go to this people and say, You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.’ Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. (NRSV)
I can be REALY stubborn sometimes. Those who know me right now are saying “NO!!!! SAY IT AIN’T SO!!!!!!” But yes, I can dig my heels in with the best of them when I am pushed in a direction I don’t want to go. Sometimes the results of such stubbornness isn’t pretty for either party, but hey – I’m still standing. I have the scars to prove it though, but mostly they are emotional and not visible to others.
Paul had to deal with stubborn people, and I’m sure that he is also speaking to me in this passage at different times of my life. Sometimes it is difficult for me to really believe that the Good News being talked about is really for me. I hear of miracles in other people’s lives, but don’t trust they can happen to me. Or when something great or even miraculous happens it isn’t what I’m expecting, so I feel let down.
I’m sure this is some of what the people Paul was addressing were experiencing, and that is why some of them left. I can only imagine this is what Isaiah was being told in his vision in Heaven’s throne room Paul was referring to (see Isaiah 6). We get hard hearts, and when things start to get difficult, but someone is telling us that God is on our side, that God loves us, that Jesus forgives our sins by having died for us….. the message is difficult to hear.
Yet God wants us to hear.
We’re still very early in the Lenten season, and the journey has only just begun. This is a long haul. With my dad undergoing cancer treatments, this is an especially difficult time for me and the family. Yet our faith is getting us through. We are trusting God. I am trusting God to show me the way in how I am to live out my call. There is hope, and by going through this journey together, we know that God’s healing will happen one way or another.
It just may not be what we expect or want.
Keep an open heart.
In Christ’s love,