There was a lightness to the air. The summer humidity was all but gone. The sun was making its final turn toward the west as the slightest breeze blew across the bay. Ahhh…a perfect afternoon in Tampa.
My neighbor sat in a chair next to me on the dock reading a magazine. It dawned on me that we’d been spending many an afternoon out on the dock lately, chatting and relaxing while our eyes enjoyed gazing at the playful mullet jumping in and out of the water like popcorn popping, one after the other.
As I sat there melting away into a peaceful bliss I said out loud,
“I think I’m having a Derbe.”
My girlfriend looked over and stared as if I sprouted a second head and asked,
“What in the world is a Derbe?”
It was a reasonable question. I guess Derbe is not a term you hear every day, or any day for that matter except of course for the first week in May when the Kentucky Derby is run. But that’s a different Derby altogether.
This Derbe represents hope. It’s gift from God. A season of Sabbaths.
A period of much-needed rest.
In the first century A.D. the Apostle Paul traveled from city to city sharing the good news of Christ. But everywhere he turned he was faced with calamity. Every city he entered he was met with some kind of persecution. He was ship wrecked three times, beaten with rods, pelted with stones, he spent a night and a day a drift out in the open sea, he was bitten by a poisonous snake, and imprisoned multiple times. It was always something.
That is, until he came to Derbe.
Derbe is the name of an ancient city in the Roman province of Galatia.
Acts 14:19-21 says ” Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch.”
Derbe is the only city on Paul’s travels where there is no mention of persecution.
God knows exactly what we can and cannot take, and I believe God knew Paul had had ENOUGH. He needed a rest. A season without persecution.
He needed a Derbe.
The bible says Paul preached the gospel in that city (Derbe) and won a large number of disciples. He was welcomed into Derbe to do what he loved, make disciples for Jesus.
After a hard run, work-out in the gym, our muscles are tired. They need time recover. Our trials are like a work-out for our faith muscles and they too need time to recover. These intervals of trials and rest are the way our faith muscles are strengthened.
The city of Derbe was where Paul caught his breath. It was here his faith muscles had time to recover.
When I had my “aha” moment on the dock I was just coming out of one of those hard seasons, lasting for several years. One storm after another knocked me around. But the winds in my life were calm now, the skies clear. As a matter of fact it was downright peaceful.
I was in a Derbe and I was going to enjoy every minute of it!
What about you? Have you been facing storms in your life and thinking you could use a sabbatical right about now?
Dear friend, God loves us so much. He counts our steps before we take them. He knows our prayers before we pray them. He hears our cries before the first tear falls.
And, He also sees when we’ve had enough.
Keep your hope in the Lord. Your Derbe is coming. A place where your strength can be renewed.
After time of rest, no doubt the winds will blow again. They did for me. They always do. They have to. It’s the bearing up against the wind that makes us stronger, builds our character and gives us hope.
Hope of another Derbe, a heavenly one.
“But those that hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; the will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40: 31
Looking forward, pressing on, seeking God.