No Ideal Place

But I will come to you after I go through Macedonia, for I am going through Macedonia; and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way wherever I may go. …But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. (1 Corinthians 16:5-6, 8-9)

There are many reasons to admire the apostle Paul, but here is one that is little mentioned: he was always planning ahead. He was static about nothing. He was like a general poring over a map in the battle headquarters, saying, “Now, where can we advance next? Where can we send the next group of troops? Where can we go find the enemy?” Because of his righteous ambition, he didn’t remain comfortable anywhere for very long.

Here is what we can learn from Paul: there’s no ideal place in which to serve God, but we can always serve God where we are. He writes in his letters about ministering in such widely dispersed places as Ephesus, Macedonia, and Corinth—but irrespective of geography, he realized that all he was supposed to be doing was evangelizing unbelievers and encouraging Christians. When his service was complete in one location, he knew he was called to move onward.

Paul was not concerned about comfort or convenience. He didn’t aspire to take up residence in a little cottage on the Adriatic Sea in a snug retirement. Even when he could say that “a wide door for effective work has opened to me,” still there were “many adversaries.” He accepted the challenges as they came and considered opposition a great privilege rather than a hindrance. 

So many of us are conditioned to believe that if we’re in communion with God and if we’re really in the place we should be, life will go smoothly. This may be a prevalent notion, but it’s also an unbiblical one. Do we really think we can stand against Satan and not face his fiery darts? Do we think we can invade enemy territory and not meet opposition? We are not called to be people who live complacently in cozy, comfortable Christian communities that know no resistance. It is possible to dampen our witness so much that we’re ineffective for Christ, but that doesn’t have to be the case, nor should it be. 

The same conditions that Paul faced surround us today: idolatry, sexual immorality, racism, religious bigotry, and a host of other evils. You have an opportunity in the midst of opposition, no matter where God plants you, to serve His kingdom. As my dear friend Eric Alexander once told me, “There is no ideal place to serve God—except where He has set you down!”

Devotional material is taken from Truth For Life Daily Devotional by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.