18 February 2020

When God says "Get up and go . . . "

PHILIP AND THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH. . . You probably remember the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. God told Philip to go and wait on the road between Jerusalem and Gaza, in the desert. The Ethiopian comes along in his chariot, reading from Isaiah, and needing someone to help him understand. Philip comes alongside the chariot and joins him, and told him about Jesus. The Ethiopian trusts Christ, is baptised, and then God picks Philip up and drops him somewhere else.
There are some details about this story that the Lord has been bringing to light for me recently. First, Go back and look at what had been happening in Philip's ministry immediately prior to this event. Philip had been preaching Christ in the city of Samaria, and had been seeing a very fruitful ministry, where people were listening carefully, God was working miracles, people were being saved and "there was much joy in that city." (Acts 8:8) There had also been some concern over Simon the magician, and Peter had to confront him. This is what Philip left . . . to go wait by the side of a desert road some 80 miles away.
Humanly speaking, it didn't make sense for Philip to leave--things were just getting exciting! And what about Simon?! Did he truly repent, or was there trouble coming? And yet God knew that there was a job for him to do elsewhere, and that He could continue what He was doing in Samaria with or without Philip. As a friend recently reminded us, there is no waste in God's economy. That lone Ethiopian official had come to Jerusalem searching, and had left--still searching.
Second, The text doesn't tell us that Philip even knew what he was waiting for, or even exactly where on the road he was to go. His orders were: "Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. . . . and he rose and went." No mile markers or exit numbers, and no name or picture of a person to watch for. Just "Go." As Philip obeyed, God made the next step clear through His Spirit. I imagine that leaving a fruitful ministry so suddenly was probably hard for Philip to do, but God had made His plan clear.
My family and I are going through a transition right now much more difficult than any we've ever had. It's one that doesn't make sense humanly speaking, because exciting things are happening here. We've seen the Lord save. 5 are getting baptised just over a week before we're scheduled to take off--Oh, and one of those getting married just 3 days before! There are "loose ends" that we want so badly to tie up and "what-if's" that play on our minds. We want to ask: "Why now??? Things are just getting really exciting! The Lord is really working here in Buckley; momentum is building!"
South Carolina is hardly a "desert," but it's not Buckley. It's not where God has placed our hearts for the last 3 years. It's not Wales, where our hearts have been for closer to 20 years. But God is clearly leading us to "Rise and go." We don't know much of anything beyond that, but I have to trust that God will make the next steps clear as we're obedient to what He's already instructed. Another good friend once told us: "It's hard to steer a parked car." If we want God to direct us, we've got to be willing to move with Him.
Did God still have work to be done in Samaria? Yes. Did God stop working in Samaria when Philip left? No. Does God still have work to do in Buckley? Absolutely. Will God stop working in Buckley when we leave? Absolutely not. Like Philip, and like Paul, we must be content wherever God chooses to plant us and willing serve Him, even if He decides to transplant us along the way as He looks at His harvest--Even when it doesn't make sense to us.

2 comments :

  1. Thank you for sharing that Jonathan,
    I don't have any answers; however, the Lord has revealed Christ (the mystery of the gospel) - there's no better answer to anything than that!

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  2. Thank you Jonathan for sharing. I cant imagine what you guys are going through but we trust in Gods sovereignty. His ways are not always our ways but they are the best way! And He has gone ahead to prepare a work for you to do. May the Lord guard your hearts and minds with His peace as you trust Him.

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