February 14: compelled (Leviticus 23-24; Psalm 24; Acts 21)

In today’s readings, the words that are on my heart are not even found in today’s readings. Three words are found in Acts 20: compelled by the Spirit. Paul is in a hurry to get to Jerusalem in time for Pentecost. We know it will not end well for Paul. At stops along the way, he is warned. Others do not want him to go to Jerusalem. The word among Jewish authorities in Jerusalem is that Paul must be stopped. And yet, knowing that certain death awaits him in Jerusalem, he keeps moving, compelled by the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever been compelled? I don’t mean that voice inside late at night that calls you to the freezer for ice cream. I don’t mean that desire for success that keeps you working late into the night. I don’t mean the kind of concern for your health prompted by a doctor’s warning that gets you up early each morning to exercise. Yes, these may fit the dictionary definition of compelled – to be driven or to be forced. For Paul to be compelled by the Spirit, I don’t think Paul was being forced. I think Paul was being faithful. He was responding to a higher calling and he found the strength through the power of the Holy Spirit to be faithful to that call regardless of what others urged him to do and in spite of the risks to his life. For Paul, this was not about Paul but God.

To be so in love with God and to have a pinpoint focus on fulfilling his God-given purpose, Paul keeps moving toward Pentecost in Jerusalem. Nineteen chapters ago, we read the importance of Pentecost – the believers were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

I underlined three words in Acts 21. Found in verse 13, Paul said I am ready. I, too, want to be ready, but will I be so faithful to God’s claim on my life that I will be compelled by the Spirit? Today I’ve been given another day, another opportunity. LORD, here I am.

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