The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
The verse above stands in the middle of multiple judiciary trials for the apostle Paul. Jews wanted him dead and the government did not know what to do with him. Every day brought the possibility of death for Paul.
Only the certainty that God would continue to use him to spread the gospel remained, no matter how his circumstances changed. During each trial, Paul continued to share his testimony, the testimony of how he encountered Jesus. Although his life on earth seemed uncertain, his eternal life stayed sure. Paul faithfully shared this message in every location God chose for him.
Personally, I like to think of myself as adventurous, yet unknowns scare me. Whether unknown places, unknown people, or unknown circumstances, I fear what I do not know. At this point in the Acts narrative Paul lives in the unknown and this is where God meets him. God reminds him to “take courage” and reveals to him the next step in his ministry.
The next unknown for me involves the June book drop in Tanzania. Although we work with pastors, translators, and missionaries from Tanzania through the year, I will soon leave the comfort of the known for the unknown of life on Kome Island. I will leave my apartment for a tent. I will leave familiarity for a new place. It will all be new, but I am certain it is where God wants me to go.
I don’t know what will come next for you, but I do know that life changes and unknowns often pop up. When we live on mission for Christ difficult circumstances inevitably interrupt what we think we know. But you know who else shows up? God.
God told Paul to take courage and continue to testify in the next place, and I believe the Lord encourages us in this same way. Serving an all-powerful and all-knowing God brings us courage.
When we read of God directing Paul concerning where he will testify next, we know we must also testify about God wherever our next unknown takes us. We look at the mandate from Christ to “Go therefore and make disciples…” (Matt. 28:19) and we know this mandate includes all who believe and follow.
So friends, no matter how you may answer the question, “Where to next?” remember to take the courage God supplies and to testify just as Paul did, knowing God remains with you. I will go to Tanzania knowing God remains with me, and may you enter your next unknown with the same beautiful assurance.