Read Acts 20:22-24
22-24 And now here I am, compelled by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I do not know what may happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit warns me that imprisonment and persecution await me in every city that I visit. But frankly I do not consider my own life valuable to me so long as I can finish my course and complete the ministry which the Lord Jesus has given me in declaring the good news of the grace of God. (JBP)
Paul was so very different to many Christian leaders today. He doesn’t paint some rosy picture of his future, promising his supporters great and glorious success. He doesn’t picture himself on one long triumphal procession towards greater fame and glory. He doesn’t sugar-coat his plans so that he and those who pray for him are captivated by thoughts of massive breakthroughs leading to enhanced reputations for all concerned.
He simply warns of opposition and hardship. That is his only certainty in terms of response to his message. Not the smoothest way to win much needed financial backing for a Christian ministry! He recognises that discipleship is difficult and is not redefining it in terms of glamour or prosperity.
And yet his message to these leaders of the church in Ephesus is not at all negative. Because he reminds them that he is intent on bringing the good news of the grace of God to as many people as possible, even if it costs him his life. For Paul, this was success. This was the accomplishment of the mission the risen Jesus gave him.
None of us knows what the future holds. The future does not as yet exist. We can only seek to do what God calls us to do: bear witness to the love and life of Jesus. We cannot be sure of the context within which this will happen, but we are intent on it happening anyway. We cannot be sure what is around the next corner, but we do know that this risen Jesus is waiting for us there.