Acts 21:27-22:23 After Roman officers arrested Paul in Jerusalem to save him from a crowd beating him and calling for his death, Paul asked the commander to let him talk to the crowd. The people listened until he told them in 22:21, But the Lord said to me, “Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.”
I heard my parents tell about arriving at the top of a mountain in Guatemala in 1953 and looking down on the Mayan village which would be their new home. They had already come through near-death experiences in Mexico (my mom had actually been pronounced dead), but they were convinced God had sent them to this village, to learn the Ixil language in order to translate the Scriptures for these particular people.
As they gazed into the Nebaj valley, holding their three young children, God brought Joshua 1:9 to their minds: Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. On the strength of this encouragement, with no idea what awaited them, Mom, Dad and my older siblings continued their journey down the rough road into Nebaj, into both hardships and joys they couldn’t anticipate.
When Paul spoke to the angry crowd in Jerusalem in Acts 22, he recounted his experience of God saying “Go” after his conversion on the road to Damascus. But the larger context was his conviction that God had sent him to Jerusalem to be threatened and arrested (I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem … jail and suffering lie ahead, 20:22-23).
Through that arrest, God would now send him to Rome, to tell people there about Jesus. God reaffirmed this through a dream in 23:11, Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well. Paul will live under guard in Rome until he is executed.
How different all this is from the “health and wealth” version of the Gospel! Jesus never offered or modeled a life of comfort and prosperity. He stated flat out, Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33). What he does promise is to be with us, to walk with us through whatever we encounter along the way—the sorrows and the joys.
So whenever we hear God say “Go,” we can know he goes with us. And nothing can ever separate us from his love.