The apostle Paul reclined stiffly, hands locked firmly behind his head. After several minutes he shifted and raised himself from his pallet, leaning on one elbow. “Brother Lucas, you know my time on earth is short!”
Luke did not respond immediately, rather continued to dribble a few drops of warm oil into his left palm and to rub his hands together, slowly and deliberately. Once more Paul extended his wiry frame full length and Luke began to massage the upper body and chest of the aging apostle. The fragrant, waxy substance melted into Paul’s aches and pains and eased him somewhat.
“I feel it is urgent we use the time which remains to our Lord’s greatest benefit.”
Though a hint of doubt clouded Lucas’ eyes, he began dutifully to unwind a thin strip of linen cloth on which to wipe his hands. Luke worried about Brother Paul’s lack of bodily stimulus due to his narrow confinement. Nevertheless he obeyed, taking up parchment and writing implement lying nearby. “I am ready, Brother Paul!”
Though the depth of his feeling was obvious, Paul kept his voice low and measured. “You are aware, beginning at my first encounter with the Lord, that He granted me revelation above measure.”
Luke leaned in closer, “Immediately following your conversion, the desert became your training ground at the feet of the Glorified One. Were envy not a sin, my brother, I would admit to it even now. For what greater honor is there than to be taught by the risen Lord Himself!”
“It was the only way, for how else prepare this least of the apostles for the work and trials that lay ahead? The white-hot zeal Paul's desert experience had kindled in him once again became manifest in his facial features.
“The Holy Spirit Himself guided your movements from city to city, became your tongue before kings, drained off serpent’s poison, flung wide the prison gates, stopped the mouths of lions, and many more miraculous interventions, too numerous count.”
“There remained yet a greater.”
“No doubt you speak of the time you were stoned and left for dead. Surely you do not wish to speak more of being caught up to the third heaven, of seeing things forbidden the eyes of mortal man. Our brothers who wax zealous for the law did not receive that information well the first time. Why stir up trouble?”
"Brother Lucas, you talk as one who esteems a show in the flesh, worldly approbation, or awesome wonders to overwhelm the senses.”
“Forgive me, Brother Paul. I will remain silent. What is it you wish to make known?”
“Not me, thou much-loved healer of the body: the Lord. He it is who yearns for His dear ones to see this most glorious of truths. While on earth our Master taught it in many of His discourses and by example, and yet I fear the church still does not drink it in and happily apply it. Too many of the saints think greatness comes with trumpet blast or mighty signs from heaven! To this day many continue to introduce new wine into old wineskins, adhering to old covenant shadows such as, “misfortune and sickness are the offspring of disobedience.” But if this were so how do we explain the cross of our sinless Master?
"Lucas, the Lord has shown me in my own body that it is in the depth of our suffering, that place where we feel weakest, least confident of our own ability to perform, that He shines forth in all His radiant glory. No revelation is greater than this for the Father has honed His power to this very end. It is the message at the very center of the cross.
"When out of His great love for me the Lord refused to heal my eyes it was His most precious gift to me. Each time I suffered, every crisis I was unable to meet in my own strength drove the lesson deeper: ‘My grace is sufficient for you. Trust Me. My power is made perfect in weakness. Put no confidence in the flesh.’
"And now as my time draws near and I prepare to cast off this earthly tent, I see it more clearly than ever. Do you understand this dear brother? It is urgent that I convey the Lord’s will on this matter to those who remain faithful. It will uphold them through fearsome trials yet to come.”
"Yes, Brother Paul, I have written all exactly as you have spoken it. And now I stamp it with your seal and will deliver it on the morrow to the hand of the steward. I know him, and he is faithful. He will see the letter gets to Timothy at Miletus. ”
Luke ran his hand over the vessel of oil that had now congealed. He began to warm the lamp again by the candle’s sputtering flame.
You really brought this alive, which served to drive the lesson home even better. Super! By the way, your article has been chosen by the FW Jewelers as a General Submision jewel for the week. Check out the Cheering Section on the Faithwriters' Forums to see the list, and to get more information. :)