Scripture: Acts 26:1-23
Key verse: (4) All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, a life spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem.
Reflection: Today’s passage is Paul’s defense speech in the great hall of the praetorium in Caesarea. One commentator claims, “One has the feeling that everything written in Acts points to this moment, a moment in which our narrator lets out all the stops.” This is Paul, the hero of the book of Acts, at his rhetorical best.
Paul shares his faith journey, from his upbringing as a Jew in Jerusalem to his life as a Pharisee, a strict devotee of God’s law. Paul confesses that he once persecuted those who followed Jesus as disciples because he saw their faith as an affront to his orthodoxy. Paul then recounts his dramatic experience on the Damascus road when he encountered the risen Christ. In this encounter, Paul was commissioned to spread the good news of Christ to the Gentiles. He was obedient to that calling despite opposition from many people. Now Paul stands before Roman authorities to make this defense speech.
Likely we won’t be caught in the political turmoil that Paul faced in the occupied lands of the Roman Empire. Likely we won’t be arrested for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those around us. Likely we won’t stand before government officials and have to give a speech defending our faithfulness to our Lord.
But like Paul, we are given opportunities to look back at our lives and to share our faith journey. We might see earnestness that sometimes became judgmental self-righteousness. We might see mistakes made when we were one hundred percent certain we were correct at the time. We might see God’s intervention that turned things around dramatically or we might see gentle nudges of the Spirit that moved us along the way. God is with us on the journey, wherever we are. Hindsight gives us faithful 20/20 vision to see God’s presence.
Prayer: As I look back over my life, O Lord, I see the ways that I have messed up. Sometimes when I was rebelling against you. Sometimes when I was convinced that I was absolutely right. Forgive me. Help me see the ways you have shaped me along the way. Equip me now to share my story with the mix of boldness and humility that faithfulness demands. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
 Paul Walaskay in Acts Westminster Bible Companion, p. 227. 1998 Westminster John Knox Press.
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].