"...a great door for effective work has opened to me" (1 Corinthians 16.9a, NIV).
Paul is in Ephesus. At the end of his first letter to the Corinthians, he tells them he plans to come to them via Macedonia, where churches flourish at Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. He wants to spend some time with them - not just a passing visit - possibly the whole winter (which was not a good time for sailing).
For the moment, however, there is more to be done in Ephesus - "a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me."
There is no indication what kind of opposition Paul was facing in Ephesus at that time. In 15.32, he speaks of having fought wild beasts in Ephesus (see also 2 Cor 1.8-9). Undeterred, he sees Ephesus as a place where there is a great door for effective work.
They say that "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." That's a fine sentiment, but how many of us in fact react that way to difficulties and opposition? We take the "easy way" of giving in and moving on.
I wonder how the early Christians viewed Jerusalem and the world of their time. Jesus had just been crucified. True, they had also seen him alive from the dead. But it was a hostile world out there. They had been promised the power of the Holy Spirit, but no promise that they would not be persecuted and done to death for Christ's sake.
We don't face that kind of opposition just now, but for us too there is a great door for effective work.
That is certainly the conviction with which we have come to the Burdekin. Humanly, we may know frustrations, hurts, disappointments... We know well enough that the workers are few but are not at all convinced that the harvest is plentiful (Matthew 9.37).
But the Lord knows well enough what he is saying. There is good news because of what he has done. And he has promised the Holy Spirit to empower us to be his witnesses.
Let us go forward together with confident faith in Christ and in the power of the same Holy Spirit.
© Peter J. Blackburn, Burdekin Link, February 2000
Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, © International Bible Society, 1983.