“But could it be, when Jesus says to pick up our cross and follow Him, He means to follow Him into the backwardness of it all? Detours, unbecoming moments, map~less ways through wastelands. Life abundant coming from least likely places-is what it means to follow Jesus?
Jenny Simmons from The Road to Becoming
Through the scattering of believers, we meet a man by the name of Philip.
Philip, a witness to persecution by the Jewish leadership, a man named Saul breathing rage, a stoning and Stephen’s brutal death. Philip, one of the new Believers, who scattered. Scattered to the mission field in the city of Samaria.
In Samaria, Philip tells everyone about the Messiah. Crowds gather to listen. They listened intently to all they heard, eager to hear the message and witness miracles.
Philip, a disciple, making disciples.
As Philip goes about the business of proclaiming the Gospel, an angel of the Lord spoke to him, giving specific instructions.
Later God’s angel spoke to Philip: “At noon today I want you to walk over to that desolate road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza.” He got up and went. ~Acts 8:26-27a The Message
I have heard, in my spirit, specific messages from the Lord before. Gentle nudges, some, not so gentle, prompting me this way or that. I, in my flexible~un~flexible way, take a stance of negotiation, or more often than not, I take the easy way. This typically results in one of two things. I waste time, breath, feign ignorance, plead Moses style, “Lord, you know I am just not capable of that!” Or, I dig in until I am dragged, kicking and screaming in a most unholy way to that thing. Just ask my Sweet Man, he has witnessed both of these responses first hand.
I heard our beloved Pastor of many years ago once say, “He daily prayed, that if called to do something or go somewhere, he did not want to do, the Lord would take him anyway, kicking and screaming all the way.” Amen and amen!
Philip, beloved, pliant, obedient Philip. He does not question, does not point out, “you know, Lord, that is a desolate road, could be dangerous, probably is, and the noon hour is when I have lunch for goodness sake!”
Not our Philip. He listens, and he ups and goes. No. Questions. Asked.
Detours often provide the Greatest, the best opportunities.
Philip travels down the desolate road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.
He left immediately on his assignment. Along the way he encountered an Ethiopian who believed in the God of the Jews, who was the minister of finance for Candace, queen of Ethiopia. He was on his way home from worshiping God in Jerusalem. As he rode along in his chariot, he was reading from the scroll of Isaiah. ~Acts 8:27&28 TPT
Philip encounters a high ranking official in the Ethiopian eunuch. This is not your everyday common folk, but, the Minister of Finance for the queen of Ethiopia.
The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go and walk alongside the chariot.” So Philip ran to catch up. As he drew closer he overheard the man reading from the scroll of Isaiah the prophet. Philip asked him, “Sir, do you understand what you’re reading?” ~Acts 8:29&20 TPT
Philip, not in the least intimidated by an important official, more concerned for his salvation. Asking a probing question, “Do you understand?”
The man replies, he in fact does not understand.
The man answered, “How can I possibly make sense of this without someone explaining it to me?” So he invited Philip up into his chariot to sit with him. ~Acts 8: 31 TPT
He was reading a portion of scripture from the prophet, Isaiah:
“He was let away to the slaughter
Like a lamb to be offered.
He was like a lamb that is silent
Before those who sheared him~
He never even opened his mouth.
In his lowliness justice was stripped away from him.
And who could fully express his struggles?
For his life was taken from the earth.”
The Ethiopian wants to know which prophet Isaiah is speaking of. Philip takes this beautiful passage of scripture and shares the good news of the Gospel message. As they travel down the road, coming to some water, fire burning in his heart, the eunuch wants to be baptized on the spot.
Philip replied, “If you believe with all your heart, I’ll baptize you.” The man answered, “I believe that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Son of God. The Ethiopian stopped his chariot, and they went down into the water and Philip baptized him. ~Acts 8:37&38 TPT
What happens next thrills me beyond imagination! I have to tell you, I have shared this story with my precious six year old grandson many times. To watch him shiver in anticipation and delight, does warm a Nanna’s heart.
The little guy is a firm believer in “teleporting,” also known as, slipping quietly past Nanna, as if you can slip past a Nanna~smile, from room to room, playing along, never letting on, I am never unaware of where he may be. He giggles in childlike wonder with twinkly blue eyes, believing he has bested his Nanna.
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of God suddenly took Philip off, and that was the last the eunuch saw of him. But he didn’t mind. He had what he’d come for and went on down the road as happy as he could be. ~Acts 8:39
Philip, POOF, shows up farther north. The Ethiopian, rejoicing in his new found life, doesn’t even notice!
When was the last time you were so distracted, so absorbed, praising and rejoicing in the Lord, you were completely unaware of what was going on around you?
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Gifts of Grace