My imagination ran wild about what Paul's life was like. When plotted on a map, Paul visited more places than most people get to today. Reading through his letters to the Ephesians, Colossians and Thessalonians kept this fascination going.
Paul feels like a friend now. I worried about him as I read. He meets people who resisted his message, but he still plugged away at it.
I even found myself saying this week, "As I walk with Paul..." My boyfriend wondered who in the world I was talking about.
The breadth of Paul's travels made me wonder. I can't even fathom how difficult it was for him to travel to spread the word of Jesus. This is far worse and daunting than being stuck in a middle seat for a long-haul flight.
Paul is honest about this, "You recall, brothers, our toil and drudgery," he says to the Thessalonians. I like to think he was talking about the difficulty of travel and not just the challenges of proselytizing.
The three books I read had a lot of repetition. You know how I feel about reading the same thing over and over. But with Paul, I didn't care. I feel like I am on this journey with Paul.
The overarching message he brings out to potential new worshippers follows the same themes: give up your idols, follow one God and make sure you are circumcised.
Even though I read the message again and again, I was not annoyed. I have had a change of heart. I see Paul's words as a good reminder. I found a lot to meditate about (no, not the circumcision part).
Paul simply tells the Colossians: "But now, you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander and obscene language out of your mouth." (Colossians 3:8) Mom, I promise to work damn hard on that last one.
Paul pivots to what Christians should be doing. "As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another ... And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body." (Colossians 3:12 & 15)
When this project is done, I have decided the next book I read is going to be about Paul. He has captured my imagination more than any other prophet or apostle.
I just want to know more.
As I wrapped up the first book of Thessalonians, I walked away with a new favorite meditation, "Pray without ceasing. In all circumstance give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5: 17-18)
Amen to that.