Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Twilight Years of Life (07/02/09)
TITLE: Twice a Warrior
By Donna New
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Paul, on his missionary journey stopped at Cenchrae, where Phoebe lived. As he was shaving his head, she happened to pass by and made a remark about his short stature. “Can’t eat much, can you shortie, without filling out that stomach!” He laughed and told her “God formed me in my mother’s womb and I haven’t grown taller since, only wider!” They exchanged a few remarks and the conversation became pleasant. They introduced themselves and Paul had won the favor of this lady by the joy and grace in his laughter.
He began to tell Phoebe why he was in town. “I’m just passin’ through to get to Ephesus to encourage them in their faith.” “What faith is that?” said Phoebe, “you’re not Paul…why you’re the guy that’s pushin’ that Carpenter that was crucified!” Paul replied, “That Carpenter met me on my way to Damascus and completely scrambled my life.” “I could no longer persecute Him. I worship Him in the way that He has become all I eat and think and breathe. I want to tell you why. May I?” Phoebe was feeling a little out of her element but was curious. She said, “You’re gonna whether I say yes or not, aren’t ya?” Paul said, “No, I respect your wish if you say the word.” She said, “Ok. I’ll listen for a little.”
Paul began, “Jesus lived a perfect life. Not the kind of life where you obey every law’s detail and are proud of it. But the kind of life where you show compassion to those that are into evil and compassion to those who are hurting. He had wisdom that was odd. To be happy you had to hunger and thirst for righteousness. For me, I was into the law, reading it, knowing it, memorizing it, making sure everyone else obeyed it. So this guy was foreign and even blasphemous to me.”
Phoebe interrupted, “I like him better than you.” Paul said “I do too now that I understand. Life is about loving and remaining holy at the same time. You first just accept Him as your Savior. He died perfect so He could bear your sin on the cross. God’s anger was directed at Him instead of at you. Then was raised from the dead” Phoebe said “I know about directing anger. I always direct it at the chump who deserves it. But God directed it at Someone who was perfect?” Paul said, “This Someone was not only perfect but He was also God’s Son.” Phoebe was quiet. She loved her husband but her son had her heart. Even in his worst moments she had trouble fussing at him because she loved him so. Paul quietly went on, “He took your sin and took God’s anger. Then Jesus said ‘It has been paid’, and gave His soul into God’s hands. And God raised Him three days later.”
Phoebe said “I want to know His heart.” And that was the beginning of a journey that led Phoebe to use her former sassiness and power as a leader as a shield to protect Paul and his fellow missionaries whenever they were in a town nearby and the persecution got rough. He even sent her to Rome to teach the new Christians there.
Phoebe grew old and her body grew frail and she wrote to Paul who was elderly and in Rome by now, “How can I protect you? You and I are old. We both need protection now more than ever.” Paul said “Prayer is a powerful tool. When we ask, He moves. If your prayer is honest and strong it will accomplish more than you could when you were more physically able.”
Phoebe had been a deaconess at the church at Cenchrae. But now she had to resign herself to being at home in a chair. She found that her time with the Lord was sweeter. The folks in town would come to her with their requests knowing that the Lord heard Phoebe when Phoebe prayed. The Lord used Phoebe in greater ways in her frailty than in her great power as a leader.
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