Beyond the Lectionary Text: Acts 20:7-38

by Bill Sytsma

Circumstances and Vision

In September, 2012, nine months after being named the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (a cancer of the white blood cells). After coaching only three games as a head coach, Pagano took an indefinite leave of absence in order to undergo treatments at the IU Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis.

In November, after his treatments were completed, Pagano attended his team’s game against the Miami Dolphins and witnessed a come-from-behind victory. After the game, Pagano gave an emotional address to his team:

“I mentioned before the game that you guys were living in a vision and you weren’t living in circumstances…you refused to live in circumstances and you decided consciously, as a team, and as a family, to live in a vision…I got circumstances. You guys understand it. I understand it. It’s already beat. It’s already beat. My vision that I’m living, see two more daughters getting married, dancing at their weddings, and then hoisting that Lombardi…we’re hoisting that trophy together man. Congratulations.”

Pagano viewed his diagnosis, as horrible as it was, as a temporary circumstance. Although his circumstance had a profound affect on his life, he wanted his team to understand that circumstances did not have more power over him than the vision he was pursuing. He would not be defined as a cancer patient, because he was looking forward to dancing with his daughters at their weddings, and continuing his pursuit of a Superbowl championship with his team.

Pagano’s categories of “circumstances” and “vision” are helpful when considering the stories in Acts 20. The vision in the book of Acts was described by Jesus in chapter 1 when He told His followers that they would go to the ends of the earth to proclaim His Kingdom. The circumstances, however, in Acts 20 do not seem too promising. God’s people faced an assortment of trials that could have become stumbling blocks to the pursuit of Jesus’ vision.

Textual Considerations

Applying the Concepts of “Circumstances” and “Vision”