IS IT REALLY INSIGNIFICANT?
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchrae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. Romans 16:1
A ex-murderer wrote a letter to a church in Rome. A woman who was moved by his faith contributed extensively to his ministry and felt called to serve him. When he needed someone to deliver his letter, she took on the burden of carrying it to the Roman church.
Travel for women was dangerous. Most likely, she had others traveling with her but Paul doesn’t mention them. Phoebe stood out.
She had no idea the power of the letter she carried on that trip. The theological history of the church was in that letter. The Reformation was in her satchel. She couldn’t know, of course. Nor do we, when we choose to obey God in what we believe is insignificant.
This weekend, my husband and I joined a group from our church on a trip to Atlanta to see a live theater production of C.S. Lewis’, The Screwtape Letters. A fictitious work on what happens in hell when higher demons train younger recruits to destroy a Christian, Lewis admits to writing this work from personal experience. He knew well how cunningly and strategically the enemy works in a Christian’s life. What was so self-revealing and risky to publish continues to speak to the church long after his death.
When God compels me to speak, or go, or serve, I never know what it means long-term. A simple message may seem insignificant but I can never know that. Who would have thought that some scratching on parchment in the baggage of a well-to-do woman traveling to Rome would shake up the church and history would forever be re-written! The domino effect of my own obedience potentially has the same ramifications.
I knew who Paul was – but not Phoebe. But I’d never know him if it weren’t for her. Burn the message of simple obedience in my heart. Amen