Most people have a “bucket list.” I certainly do. Included on mine, among others, is hike the Ice Age Trail in its entirety, run the Antarctica Marathon, find and visit the district in Scotland from which my forebear, Alexander Martin, hails from and be part of a flash mob. Today I'm officially adding a new one: to travel in the footsteps of Paul the Apostle, literally. From Antioch in Syria to Alexandria Troas in present-day Turkey, and then travel by boat to Macedonia. From there take the old Roman world down to Athens and then hoof it over to Corinth and then back over to Turkey to the ruins of Ephesus. Essentially I want to follow the entire course of the missionary journeys he took roughly during a decade of travel and ministry between 47 and 57 A.D.
|Admittedly, that's a lot of squiggles to follow|
|What's left of the ancient port of Troas|
|This is just what Paul & Company saw - the island of Samothrace off the coast of Greece|
So why this sudden rush to walk in the steps of Paul? Maybe to just heighten the growing wonder I have of the man. The guy was a machine, relentless in his pursuit of what he was firmly persuaded God had called him to do. I want to walk through the Cilician Gates, I want to stand at the ancient port of Alexandria Troas and try and imagine Paul and his companions boarding the boat that will take them across the Aegean Sea into the land mass later to be dubbed “Europe.” I want to visit the ruins of Ephesus and try and imagine the great Temple of Artemis and somewhere in its vicinity Paul standing in her shadow seeking to persuade men to turn from the worship of demons to the worship of the living God.
|A hot time in the old town|
I think of the day of the book-burning in Ephesus (Acts 19:19). He didn't work the crowd and stir these young converts to such a public act of repudiation but I can't help but feel that at the sight of the fire burning in the agora he must have experienced great satisfaction. After all he had gone through, after all he had suffered, the fact that the Name of Jesus was now held in the highest regard in one of the most important cities in that part of the world had to have brought him joy. It had all been worth it – everything from the blisters on his feet from thousand or more miles he had hiked, the scars on his back from the flogging in Philippi, and the permanent damage malaria had wrought on him. He had paid a great price in blood, sweat and tears but he had persevered. He had stayed the course. Watching all the occultic paraphernalia burn in the town square had to be his inspiration to press on to Rome and proclaim the gospel there (see v. 20).
|One guy's version of Artemis' great temple|
I'd love to be able to sit on the highest tier of the great amphitheater in Ephesus and look down the Arcadian Way leading to where the harbor, long since silted up, used to be and exult again in the victory of God over the powers that once held sway there but were tirelessly run out of town by a man who had no quit in him.
|Best view in the house|