This story is inspired by Acts 8:26–40.
I am Philip. The Holy Spirit has been giving me the free gift of paying attention, of staying aware, and of listening to hints the old me may have ignored.
I was about my ordinary tasks last week when I clearly heard a message: “Go to the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.” My first thought was, Yuck! That’s a desert road. But I know better, since Jesus’ Resurrection, than to ignore what might be an angelic prodding to do God’s will. So I went.
As I reached the road, just ahead of me was an ornate chariot, decorated with symbols of an African nation. I surmised that someone important must be in that conveyance. Once again prodded by the Holy Spirit, I ran up to it, and as I approached I could hear the words of Scripture.
It was the passage about the one harshly treated who submitted silently, like a lamb led to slaughter. “He was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people.” (Isaiah 53:8) I asked the traveler if he understood what he read.
He replied, “How can I, unless someone explains it me?”
I said that I could, and he begged me to do so, inviting me to get into his vehicle.
Ever since Pentecost, these kinds of situations are not extraordinary; God clearly wants the world to know about Jesus the Christ. The official I met in that chariot came to accept Jesus as the Son of God and was baptized on the spot. I’m sure that he returned to Ethiopia and told everyone about Jesus. From his powerful position with the queen, the official likely converted many.
As I prayed in silence with my Lord this morning, I reflected back on that day when I met the Ethiopian and sat in his carriage. I suddenly pictured myself in a chariot, with Jesus running up to me, asking if I understood the Scriptures.
“Ride along with me, Jesus!” I invited, and he hopped up and sat next to me. He sat so close I could feel his exhalations as he spoke. I thought, Who am I that you want to be this close to me?
Jesus laughed. “Don’t be afraid to really accept—really live—the truth that I am alive, eager to work miracles in your life and the lives of those to whom I send you.”
“Jesus,” I replied, “give me the insight to discern those little whispers in which you are sending me to some unknown person and place.”
Jesus breathed on me intentionally then. I allowed myself to feel God’s presence. I sat silently for I don’t know how long as Jesus was snatched from my meditation, just as I was snatched to Azotus near the sea and never saw that Ethiopian again.
That doesn’t stop me from wondering how the news of Jesus is spreading throughout Africa because I was willing to listen to that tiny, outrageous invitation to “get up and go!” Despite my curiosity, I know it is not for me to know the answer to that. I simply plant seeds, which Jesus will turn into forests.
Image: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8). Copper engraving by Carl Schuler, published c. 1850. ZU_09/iStock/Getty Images.