And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.I used to think that one could determine the presence of the Spirit of God by three things:
1. Some level of being sure about the path God had me on.
2. That things work out well for me.
3. That I feel good and at peace about my life.
But here, Paul says that, constrained [NIV 'compelled'] by the Spirit, he:
1. Does not know what will happen to him in Jerusalem.
2. That things do not work out 'well' (The Spirit tells me that afflictions and imprisonment await me)
3. That his life has no value or 'preciousness to myself' outside of finishing the ministry of testifying to the gospel.
Of course, depending on how you look at it, my old reading of the work of the Spirit wasn't entirely wrong. It's just that God's Spirit leads us to a deeper experience of life in a fallen world: less about me, and more about the good and hard work of the Gospel of hope.
I find that encouraging.
Or maybe it's just plain scary.
In the goodness of God, perhaps it's both.
Pic on Flickr by HalonaCoast.