Acts 13:47 (KJV)
"For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth."
In spite of all this Paul has a hearing desire to reach out to the Jewish people. Almost without exception everywhere he went he would begin his ministry within that geographical area by visiting the Jewish community and speaking of Christ. Yet over and over again he was rejected.
He kept returning with hope in his heart that somehow he would have an impact upon the Jewish people. I once heard that Paul suffered from something a preacher called S.I.T.S. Which is sort for self induced troubles. As much as Paul knew he was to go the Gentiles, which is affirmed within the book of Acts, his heart always led him back desiring that he could win his own people to Christ. He is warned by Agabus the prophet not to go to Jerusalem. In Acts chapter 21 and verse 11 it is said that if he went, he would be bound and sent back to the Gentiles. Paul received many warnings of impending problems if he went to Jerusalem. In spite of all of this, Paul was so grieved by what he had done prior to meeting Jesus that he wanted to be able to make amends to the many that he had incarcerated and persecuted. The scripture says that when he went to Jerusalem and gave witness of who Christ was, that it sent the Jewish people of Jerusalem into an uproar. It all ended with Paul being taken prisoner by the Roman guard. After he was imprisoned, the Lord stood by him and said to him, "Be of good cheer Paul for as thou has testified of me in Jerusalem so must thou bare witness at Rome."
So let's put this in perspective. Paul had a passion to win his Jewish brethren to Jesus Christ, but he was an apostle to the Gentiles not to the Jews. After being warned by God over a period of time by a number of different sources, he still does what he is told not to do and yet God, in His mercy and grace, comes to him and says be of good cheer and sets him back on course to the calling that he was given.
This story takes my breath away because it is a clear understanding of God's infinite patience and desire for us to fulfill the calling that He has sent us to do. I learned from this story that God is specific in what He wants. I also realize that He is articulate and will clarify to us exactly what He wants. I see the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ manifested. I see the passion of God and the persistence of God to bring us to what is right and correct for us. It is interesting that I do not see the rebuke of God, but the affirming correction bringing clarity to the apostle Paul in the midst of his confused desires. Through all of this, it is clear that there is hope when it seems as though our life gets really pulled and pushed in many directions. If we are willing ultimately we will do the will and desire of God for our lives.