It was the weekly filming day. I knew what that entailed. I had to try and make my birds-nest hairstyle sit in one position. I did the comb over and it seemed to work. I had to put a shirt on after living in t-shirts for the last few days. Then I had to position where I was sitting having been told not to have the light behind me. I was being careful especially with any reflections as my son said my last film showed I was secretly wearing shorts! I had to put my camera phone on the best setting then position it what seems to be back to front but it’s the best way apparently. In my hand I had my list of 10 top tips for producing the best digital sermon ever. I had invested in my new digital ministry with a £10 tripod for my phone. I positioned that on the stool and checked a few times that I was actually in view. After a few dodgy starts (there’s a rumour that I’m known as ‘one-take Hudson’ but it’s not true) I was rolling. Point one was brilliant and smooth. Point two was magnificent and I was feeling confident. Point three, the tripod fell off the stool.
It was then that I realised I was beginning to hate lockdown and I entered into a few hours of being fed-up.
When our circumstances are anything but pleasant we face a battle to choose how to respond and live.
Paul is under house arrest with a Roman guard. He is contained, limited and not free to travel like he has been. He is restricted to reach the many churches he still wants to visit.
This is where Paul was.
According to Jewish custom a bereavement is followed by a week of mourning known as ‘shiva’. Mourners sit on low stools as near to the ground as possible. Remember how Jobs friends could not recognise him because of his suffering and for 7 days and nights they sat on the ground and in the dirt with him (Job 2:13)? Similarly the ‘shiva’ demonstrates their heartache of the mourners by bringing themselves as low as possible. The enemy of your soul wants you to stay low, to keep you down and to be hard-pressed (as Paul would write to the Corinthians).
You may know where you are today. You can describe your condition and the place where you have ended up in life. It may not be where you would have chosen. You may have hoped for better things. Your circumstance may be trying to bring you low, you may even have those feelings right now.
But Paul says to us that this is not where we are.
He knew where he was physically, the prison was real; there was no doubt in his mind.
This is where I am. However, it is not where I live.
Paul was actually not under Roman guard, he was not under house arrest, contained, limited, not free to travel like he had been, restricted from reaching the many churches that he still wanted to reach. He was not at that place. Paul saw it differently,
“I am limited under Roman guard but that is not where I am living my life.”
He says, v3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ”.
For us today we are not sitting low to the ground.
“I am not sitting in this prison, I am living my life in the heavenly realms!”
The heavenly realms is the unseen world of spiritual reality where we are one in Christ. Through Jesus God has made us alive and in relationship with Christ! That relationship is found in the unseen world but the proof of that relationship is evident in the seen world!
I am under arrest but I am at the horizon. The horizon is the point of the physical and spiritual, the visible and the invisible. The prison and the praise.
I’m under arrest but I’m at the horizon.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, how is that possible?
Because the physical circumstances will not define me, I will find a way because I live at the horizon of 2 dimensions. I am not where you think I am.
“I am blessed in the heavenly realms.”