on a roller-coaster.

Romans 15:17–22 (NIV)

Romans is Paul’s magnum opus. He’s been on a roll since Chapter 1.

Picture how all this came together. Paul is living an incredible roller-coaster life. Despite his shameful beginnings, he’s been privileged to do great things. He has witnessed the power of God flowing through him. He has seen the world turned upside down and has been in the thick of things the whole time. Compared to Paul, Batman is a couch potato.

How would you feel if all that happened to you? Paul must have been in an almost manic state when he wrote this.

And it shows. His excitement over the spiritual state of his church plants just oozes out of this passage. He has never lost the wonder of his unexpected calling and can’t stop sharing it.

Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”

This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.

OK, so why has Paul often been hindered from coming to you? Is there something about Paul’s ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known that explains his not coming to Rome?

Yes, he’s been busy. But it’s more than just that; it’s about Paul’s whole crazy roller-coaster life. Paul never knows what’s around the next bend. Often, Paul thinks he’s going one place and the spirit sends him somewhere else. He’ll eventually come to them in Rome but that will be even crazier—arrest, plots, trials, appeals, storms, shipwreck, vipers, you name it.

So Paul puts in a tag line to say, “Sorry I haven’t visited, but this road trip has just been crazy.

“But hey, it’s all good.”

Paul’s life was full of pain and trials but also full of significance. How’d you like to have a life like that? That’s the question every Christian should ponder. Would you be willing to give up your normal life for a life of service that’s filled with uncertainty and excitement?

I wish I could say yes, but I can’t. That bothers me. I have lots of excuses, all related to family commitments. Saying yes affects more lives than just my own.

There’s a word for people who answer yes to that question—missionaries.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.