Open doors and blown opportunities

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When I came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me. But I had no peace of mind because my dear brother Titus hadn’t yet arrived with a report from you. So I said good-bye and went on to Macedonia to find him. (2 Corinthians 2:12-13)

Who in his right mind would begin a letter whose main purpose was to establish his credentials as a minister of the gospel with a confession? Who would share about a blown opportunity in the process of revealing the secret of his success? Who would admit to his own personal anxiety as keeping him from walking through a door the Lord had opened for him? Those are things you try and forget when talking about your successes and establishing some authority.

“Who? Who?” asks the owl of truth.

I’ll tell you who — and if I could somehow shout these next words in print I would, so I will borrow a trick from John Irving in his novel Prayer for Owen Meany and put it all in caps:

SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO MAKE PERFECTLY CLEAR FROM THE START, THAT SUCCESS IN THE MINISTRY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH GOD!

That’s who. Someone who wants to leave no doubt about where the power comes from for followers of Christ. It’s all about power, and it’s all about the Holy Spirit, and it’s all about us just being there, or as we like to say, “Showing up.” Matters not what shape or condition we are in.

Now this is not the way you start your story if you are trying to impress someone with yourself. This is not the way you begin a motivational seminar. This is not the way you start a college football season by following up a brilliant win with a freshman quarterback with a more mediocre loss and your freshman quarterback looking more like … well … a freshman. (Brigham Young 30; USC 27). And yet this is the way Paul starts his teaching on his credentials for the ministry, with a loss, a personal anxiety, and a blown opportunity. And this is the way we start, too, with a clear understanding of our limitations, but a confidence in someone other than ourselves. You have to know where the Spirit is if you’re going to carry on in spite of yourself.

The Catch Ministry’s 21 Day Challenge

Where the Spirit is ….

2 Corinthians, Chapter 2:12-Chapter 4:12

September 16, 2019

Day One

“For Your Consideration Questions”

2 Corinthians Chapter 2:12-13

12.Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me,

13.I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.

Those brief words gather up a tremendous experience in Paul’s life. He had gone to Troas from Ephesus, as he tells us here, to preach the gospel of Christ, which was his great joy, in part because it was such a tremendous thing to see the power of God let loose among men and women to set them free.

So here he is in Troas to do what is his heart’s desire. The door is open in the marketplace, people were responding and wanting to know more. Yet, as he tells us here, he is unable to take advantage of it. He is anxious about what was going on in Corinth. Too troubled and anxious, he left to find Titus.

For your consideration:

  1. Do you think you could have shared as honestly as Paul did about his frustration — the sick to his stomach kind of anxious frustration – so much so that he skipped a booked date in the marketplace consisting of a huge group of people looking for life’s answers? Why or why not?  
  2. Paul was, after all, a man. Do you think Paul may have had a tinge of guilt for leaving a ministry to fulfill his anxiousness by locating Titus? Do you think God was disappointed in Paul for not fulfilling his responsibility to  to preach the gospel of Christ.  I mean, after all, Paul had found that the Lord had opened a door for him. 
  3. Have you ever knowingly walked past an open door to share the gospel?
  •  Did you feel guilty for leaving? Why or why not?
  • Was God disappointed in you? Why or why not?

Stay turn for Day Two of our 21 Day Challenges tomorrow, Tuesday September 17, which can be found at CatchJohnFischer.com and on YouTube.

You will find the next verse astonishing!

This entry was posted in 21-day Challenge, Old/New Covenants and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Open doors and blown opportunities

  1. Markus says:

    I like this story, because it is one of those stories where human logic and divine logic interact in unexpected ways.

    To explain:
    The act of trying to convince people is not just about the message, it is also about personal charisma. And anxiety tends to diminish a person’s charisma a lot, particularly when this person is trying to convince you of a message that will have a massive effect on your life, if you accept the message. To not go and preach in this particular case strikes me as the right decision there. From a human perspective, at least.

    One can also say that the Holy Spirit would certainly have taken care of this issue, of course. However, there is also the parable of the shepherd who left his flock to find one lost sheep. And yes, I see a parallel there.

    And this also makes the story a nice lecture in respect to how the Holy Spirit works. The Holy Spirit is not just a means to make us effective ambassadors of the gospel, it is also a force that reminds us that the gospel is not just about numbers, but also about personal relations and trust. If it was any different then both Paul and the shepherd would have had the mindset of a general at war for whom sacrificing a single individual/soldier is part of the job. And it seems like God does not want us to have this particular mindset at all!

    • Ray Ware says:

      Thank you, Markus. I concur. Both on the communicator’s personal charisma to persuade effected by anxiety and upon the parallel of the parable of the seeking shepherd as being aligned here. I am grateful for Paul’s confession, if that was what it was, because we humanly need our Titus accounted for and to be counted on in order to do life and ministry right. Too often I find Paul of that personality type that could do it all on his own.

  2. Sandie says:

    Listening to the Spirit means looking for the subtle. Hard when the obvious seems so obvious. We weren’t there, so we don’t know Paul’s mind; we can only surmise. And reflect on our own experience. I have stood in front of an audience with a mike in my hand; entertained and blessed them. Or tried to. I trust they left with a seed the Holy Spirit could nurture. But it was the person who hung on the side as we were packing gear. Since I only had a mike and cord to be responsible for, it was easy for me to approach that person, out of the limelight. THERE was the real ministry; two people sharing. We never made an altar call; we never ‘shoved the dove;’ we just shared ourselves. So maybe that’s where Paul was led…into the shadows …to be ministered to by a friend and reciprocate the same.

  3. John A Fagliano says:

    I think Markus has a point that Paul might have done the right thing. Having “no peace of mind” can be either because Satan is badgering you or because the Spirit is tugging at you telling you to do something else. It takes prayer and discernment to figure it out or it can get confusing. God’s peace passes all understanding and since Paul did not feel peace about Titus’ absence (when The Spirit could have easily filed him with peace) Paul may have felt he needed to leave. Since Paul did not elaborate more on what happened it’s not clear if this was a confession or if Paul was saying that because he didn’t hear a report from Corinth, his concern for them was greater. He might have been expressing his love for Corinth.

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