“In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city…in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped from his hands.” – 2 Corinthians 11:32-33 (NRSV)
Paul has just finished bragging about all he’s gone through for the gospel: beatings, lashings, stonings, shipwrecks, starvation. Very dramatic. Then he tells the story of the time he had to escape through a window in the city wall – not by repelling down special-ops style with night-vision goggles on, mind you, but by being lowered in a basket. All that action-hero stuff, and then he caps it with a story about being bundled out the window in some weird giant basket and running away.
Ask some people what they’re willing to do to prove their commitment to something they really care about, and they’ll give you a dramatic list: death, wounds, suffering, sacrifice. Soldiers giving the last full measure of devotion. Christians martyred. Protestors facing tear gas and dogs. Fathers who claim they will do “anything” to protect their families – by which they mean anything that would make a good action movie scene. I myself have imagined winning the day for my causes in any number of heroic ways. None of them involves being lowered out the window in a big basket.
No need to tell me you’d do dramatic stuff for what you value most. I believe it. What I want to know is: would you do humiliating stuff? Would you be willing to lose your reputation for it? To sacrifice your character? To embarrass yourself?
In a stand-your-ground world, would you be willing to retreat for the sake of the gospel?
Give me the strength to serve you, O God, especially to do the stuff that would make a terrible movie. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.