No to Woe

Originally appeared as a series of tweets:

1 Cor 9:16 really speaks to me.

1 Cor 9:16 says, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.” Those are Paul’s words.

Paul is saying he has it in him to preach, to be an apostle. The Spirit was leading him to this. A pressure within was pushing him to this.

There was no explanation other than that -- no tidy account of Paul’s mission that could fit snugly within the plans of other people.

“Woe,” said Paul. Woe if he tried to ignore what was in him. Woe if he tried to curtail it, just for the sake of making sense.

Another word for this woe is -- are you ready for this? -- happiness.

Paul would’ve been happy sometimes if he stayed at home. Cozy, with time speeding by. It’s just that his soul would have been dim.

His soul would have been dim with wondering... What about this pressure I’m pushing down? What about this light I’m keeping covered up?

Thoreau wrote about the woe. He said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

Paul traded up. Paul said, I’ll let go of the safety of making sense and having people pat me on the head. Paul chose joy.

Happiness and joy are different. Happiness fades. Joy builds. It is an outflow of the eternal Spirit of God. See Gal 5:22.

To follow God, Paul said no to woe. To know joy, Paul said yes to the way God made him, yes to the part made for him in God’s plan.

It didn’t all make sense. Paul couldn’t know the whole plan. But it was an adventure! And his soul was no longer dim. He blessed us all.

Stop making sense.

Stop trying to fit the episodes of your adventure into a plan so small that you can explain it all.

Where is the pressure inside of you pushing? (Forget the pressure on the outside for now.)

What is the direction in which you find yourself thinking less about happiness, because you’re busy encountering joy?

Write your own 1 Cor 9:16. Keep at it until true. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel,” said Paul. And woe to you if you do not ... ??