2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, 4 so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.
– Colossians 4:2-4, NRSV
When life gives you lemons, the adage goes, make lemonade.
Without a doubt, the apostle Paul is the Bible’s lemonade-maker extraordinaire. His proverbial lemonade glass is always half full. He sees possibility everywhere — even in his own suffering, his own imprisonment.
That much is clear in this scripture passage, penned in a prison cell. As he writes to the Colossian church, Paul asks his brothers and sisters to pray, to pray for an open door. Now, it’s probably not that surprising to find an imprisoned man praying for open doors. Open cell doors, perhaps? Unlocked and unguarded, so the unjustly condemned could walk to freedom?
But an open prison door isn’t the kind of “open door” that Paul is seeking here. Paul is prayerfully seeking a different kind of “open door,” a different kind of opening altogether. He’s prayerfully seeking an opening for the gospel, an opportunity to share the gospel. “Pray for us as well,” he writes, “that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison” (Colossians 4:3, NRSV). In Paul’s eyes, the prison is a mission field, rife with possibility. By God’s grace, he’ll take prison’s lemons and make some gospel lemonade. He’ll embrace the possibility in the midst of the great challenge, taking hold of the open door God offers to him.
Paul’s story, and his unfailing capacity to see hidden possibility in the midst of overwhelming challenge and suffering, brings to mind the words of Christian poet and theologian Thomas Merton:
You do not need to know precisely what is happening or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment,
And to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.
Friends, we might not know or understand what is happening in this season of coronavirus… and we certainly don’t know where it is all going.
But in the midst of all the challenges we face, perhaps we can recognize the possibilities of this unique moment.
Perhaps we can embrace those possibilities with courage, faith, hope.
Perhaps we can take coronavirus’ lemons and make some life-giving, hope-restoring, gospel-infused lemonade.
Pray, friends, for God’s lemonade recipe. After all:
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
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