During the opening devotions at our Presbytery meeting on Friday, 7 April 2017, the Moderator, Rev. Thomas Murray, directed our attention to Acts chapter 23.
I must admit that my immediate thought outside of Paul's predicament in this instance was of Martin Luther. The lines of Acts 23:10-11 sound like an almost mirror image of what happened to Luther on 4 May 1521 when, for his own safety, the soldiers of the Elector of Saxony 'kidnapped' him as he travelled from the Diet of Worms where Emperor Charles V had effectively signed Luther's death warrant.
These soldiers brought him to a place of refuge in the Wartburg Castle, in the hills above Eisenach. Here, for almost 10 months, Luther performed his best work, including translating the New Testament into the German language.
"And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle. And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, 'Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome'."
As we face the various trials that life throws at us, may we take confidence in the truth that we too have a castle to which we can resort for protection – the Lord Himself.
• Psalm 46:1: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
• Psalm 71:3: "Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress."
In the calm of the noontide, in sorrow’s lone hour,
In times when temptation casts o’er me its power;
In the tempests of life, on its wide, heaving sea,
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.