The apostle Paul first entered Ephesus with a revelation. It was a vision that through the message of the Kingdom; the Ephesians would be restored to their God. Within three short months a spirit began to arise (Acts 19:8-9). This spirit exhibited animosity, a lack of submission, and rivalry. Paul went from open heavens and yielding hearts to an all-out face off by an opponent who seemed to possess the power to not only overthrow Paul’s mission but also to discredit all his integrity. This spirit of resistance was not just some hovering annoyance that would eventually go away. He demanded a response, and so Paul gave him one.
His solution, his plan of attack, is found in one of his letters to the Corinthians. In it he writes of a runner whose ultimate goal is not simply how he finishes the race but also why (1 Cor.9:24). Paul chose to shift his gaze from the race to the prize. When he repositioned himself in the lecture hall of Tyrannus, it was not an act of cowardliness or intimidation, but rather a sign of fortitude. Paul’s answer to this spirit of resistance was direct and yet without sound. He simply fixed his eyes on his prize.
We today are challenged to do the same. To put aside previous misconceptions that the only way to defeat an adversary is to stand our ground and fight. In this hour, our opponent cannot be conquered through mere words and stamina but rather through an acknowledgement of our true motivation. We must heed Paul’s example to fix our eyes on our prize, our Beloved. When we do that, our challengers, our giants, begin to look smaller, and our God looks more beautifully clear. In Paul’s story, it was not about having to change courses; it was about making sure he stayed in perfect view of his prize. Paul simply moved locations because his challenger was blocking his view. As we too begin to focus our attention back on Him, the “how’s” will be brilliantly replaced with one radiant reason why – Him.