Life at times is like a rushing river. It carries us down stream at an alarming pace beyond our control. There are times when it leaves us in places we do not want to be. Have you ever been stuck in a place in life that is beyond your control?

The Apostle Paul wrote a small letter to one of his co-workers. His name was Titus. Evidently the two of them had visited the small Island of Crete in the Mediterranean ocean. The Apostle was going to return to the mainland and continue his travels, but he is instructing Titus to stay in Crete. Here are the Apostles words: “for this reason I left you in Crete that you may set in order what remains, and appoint Elders in every city… Elders, as I instructed you.” [Titus 1:5] That sounds clear enough but listen as Paul describes the people of this Island. “For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers, and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, [Jewish] who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families…one of themselves, a prophet of their own, said: ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons. This testimony is true’ ”. [Titus 1:11-13]

That is not the ideal church for the Apostle to send one of  his helpers. Surely there are places that offer more than “liars, evil beasts, and gluttons”. I can imagine Titus sending Paul a letter that goes something like this; “this is an awful place. The inhabitants are hopeless, poor and struggling. The Christian movement is in rags and tatters. I will remain here until you say ‘go’ but I cannot get away fast enough. For pity sake, don’t make me stay here all winter!”

Have you ever been in “Crete”? Symbolically, I have. “Crete” is a messy place to stay in for very long, but the river of life carries us there. Despite our efforts and prayers, nothing moves, and we stay in “Crete”.

When I was in “Crete”, I tried to bargain with God. I even gave God a deadline and told Him if he did not get me out of “Crete” by my deadline, I was going to take matters into my own hands. Amazingly, I stayed in “Crete” until He was ready to move me on. I had been to college. I was educated and trained to be a pastor. However, there are some things you will never learn by sitting under the best of professors. There are things to learn in “Crete” that can only be taught by God. The soul is laid open before Him in our desperation. While in “Crete”, we learn more about ourselves and we learn about God, not from a textbook but from life experiences among the “liars, evil beasts, and gluttons”.

Can you put yourself in Titus’s place? The beauty of the Mediterranean coast is a much better place with the Taurus mountains snowcapped against a blue sky. The culture of Athens is invigorating to the mind. How about Rome, with the Roman Senate, the amphitheater, and the Roman emperor? What value is there in being stuck in this God forsaken culture of Crete?

Surely this principle runs all through life. Life is not what you find; it is what you create. Many people wander through life and pick up anything they can get their hands on, looking for life. They never find it. What they get is existence. Existence is what you find as you wander through life; but to create life takes effort, and many times He is found in “Crete”. If I were to do a survey of all who read this today, I think most people have found God while they were in “Crete”. Life is not something I tackle, but something I find. I develop a relationship with God, and it is only then that I find life in the highest.

How did Titus get out of Crete? I think the day came when Titus said, “Paul is right! Crete is a place where “lazy gluttons and evil beasts live”. But, as he saw what the Gospel had done for other towns where Paul had ministered, Titus put those same principles to work in Crete. I like to think that Paul was right in leaving Titus in this hard place. May I suggest that the same principles still work today? Allow the power of God’s word to work in your circumstances and I believe you will see God at work and changing the culture of Crete.

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