Paul finally got his day. He was able to speak his piece here. He had been dragged around and beaten over a false accusation and finally, before a Roman authority Paul was able to speak. He did so clearly. He did so boldly. He simply asked them, what did you see? You heard rumors, and you listened to liars, but what did YOU see that gives reason for such charges?
They had no answer. There was nothing they could say back. They had seen nothing. But Felix knew about “the Way” and he wanted to question Paul more, so he had Paul taken back into custody. He was given some freedoms back. He was able to have visitors. Yet, he was still in bondage. Felix would call Paul in to talk about their faith. He would bring his wife, a Jewish woman, and they would discuss righteousness, and judgment, and the gospel. He stayed there in prison two years. Mostly because Felix hoped someone would eventually buy Paul’s freedom. So he kept him in prison and waited.
The end of all this? Nothing. Which can be kind of sad when we stop to think about. We’d hope after years that Paul would teach the gospel and Felix would get saved, but he doesn’t. He moves on. He leaves his post and someone else takes over. So he spends years there, working, praying, answering, talking, and hoping that God had him there for a reason, only to see nothing come from it.
Sometimes God has us in a place and we see no fruit. Sometimes our efforts are good, our mission is clear, we do what we’re called, and people still walk away. Even when Jesus went out to people. He would talk to them. Offer himself to them, and make the same offer he made to so many, “Follow me.” So many people walked away from that. Not because the delivery was bad. Not because Jesus failed. Simply because they made a choice.
One of the hardest things to grasp is that sometimes we are only in someone’s life to give them a choice. Our relationship and reactions are the olive branch. It’s up to them to take it. When they don’t, we can’t look at this as time wasted or as a failure. If we’ve done our best to live as disciples, share our faith and the hope we’ve found in Jesus, then at the end of this we’ve found victory. We may not have seen the things we wanted to see, and may not have reached everyone we hoped would, but can’t do this part for them.
So first, we can’t use someone’s hard heart as a reason not to share. We’re called to share our faith, hope, and love regardless. Second, we can’t be discouraged when we don’t see the life change we want. We’ve got to continue trying. We’ve got to continue with the calling and continue to be faithful no matter what.
Who has God called you to that seems to be hopeless? Have you continually given them everything?