22 May 2020Acts 16:1-15
A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. (v. 14)
Psalm: Psalm 51
I remember I was in the thick of helping set up for our street party when the phone call came. We were busy putting up bunting along the road and excited to celebrate William and Kate’s royal wedding the next day. There was a real buzz amongst neighbours about what was happening, with our children looking forward to having a car-free zone all the following day to scoot and ride their bikes in. The voice at the other end of the line thanked me for coming to the interview but unfortunately I’d not got the job. It felt like a blow to the stomach and it brought me crashing down to ground. All my hopes at that time had been pinned on this new start that was now not going to be. I was bewildered. I’d had such a clear sense that God was leading me in this new direction, so many things seemed to be in place and yet the door slammed hard in my face. That was the end of that.
Reading about Paul and Timothy’s experience here in Acts makes me wonder how they responded each time the spirit prevented them to speak or enter a place. They must have been full of purpose: Timothy having made the bold decision to travel with Paul, certain of where God was leading. But instead they’re hindered at every turn. Did they question what was being asked of them? Did they become frustrated and tempted to abandon their plans? Then Paul has a vision. And he trusts that this is the right next step.
The encounter with Lydia powerfully illustrates the gospel arriving in unexpected places with unexpected people. A business woman who “opened her heart” as a result of their faithfulness to pursue God wherever he led them. Paul and Timothy were unafraid to face the closed doors, to adapt and change and move forward with purpose. It reminds me of the sense of God being at work through all things, that our experiences are never wasted and how he grows and nurtures us always. For me the intense disappointment that day brought me into unexpected places with unexpected people too, something I’m profoundly grateful for now. It has helped me to realise how God draws us onward through both minor and major setbacks in life. Never abandoning us but all the while loving us wholeheartedly. So we grow more into his likeness.
Gail Adcock, Family Ministries Development Officer
- When have there been times in your life when it has seemed your way forward has been curtailed?
- What sense do you have of where God is leading you right now?
- Might God being taking you somewhere unexpected too? How do you feel about that?