My favourite lame cheesy joke that drives my daughter crazy: "When is a door not a door?"
"When it's ajar."
When is a prisoner not a prisoner? When he is Paul in Rome.
What is really happening? This saga has dragged on for about three years now. From Jerusalem to Caesarea to several ports across the Mediterranean Sea and now Rome Paul is still not free. However he is the most well treated prisoner in the entire New Testament. Why?
Have you ever been in an unresolved situation that makes no sense? Typically a prisoner either gets convicted of a crime and sentenced or is released. Three years later neither has happened to Paul and while the other prisoners are all in cells he is in a house, able to behave in many ways as a free man yet not free.
Now follow me. Could we not call Paul's bizarre situation life? We are prisoners here on this sin infested planet hijacked by Satan. No sentence has been declared yet. Time keeps passing. We live as if free but the ruler of the prison is always not far away. We want to appeal to Caesar. We want to make our case for being set free and going Home. However the roller coaster of life keeps chugging along and nothing seems to change. Satan has his chains around our ankle yet he is prevented from completely having control over us.
What is the purpose of this endless charade?
Paul's journey gives a clue. How many lives has he touched along the way? How many people has he been able to talk to about the Master he serves? How many miracles have stood as a witness to the supernatural connection he has with Him.
Life is a journey. A lot of it appears to make no sense.
Last week before my sister and her family headed east for the holidays we got together for dinner. Out came some sweaters my mom made many years ago. She was a prolific knitter. I remember watching her fingers dance, hearing the clack of the needles, watching the ball of yarn slowly unwind. It seemed like random chaos. Sometimes multiple balls of colour were unwinding at once. How did the same endless clacking of needles and flicking of wrists and fingers produce such varied and beautiful things from booties to scarves to sweaters?
What can appear as meaningless confusing chaos at any point in the process can only be seen when the process is ended and from the apparent randomness emerges something beautiful.
What amazes me is Paul had no idea what his life was knitting. None of us do. It's going to be amazing to get Home and discover all the ways God used our lives and turned attacks into opportunities and the plans of the devil upside down. Random encounters with strangers will be revealed as the beginning of turning a person, a family, a community, even an entire nation around.
God is the Potter. We are the clay. Just stay in His capable hands.