by Dave Short
(Editor’s note: With this blog post we continue our series, “The Stories within the Story.” Each article will include how to use specific passages and stories in scripture in gospel witness.”)
“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure… And the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over and join this chariot.’” (Acts 8:26, 27, 29)
When my son, Jordan, was 16, like a lot of young men his age, he set out to find a job. At first, he did not have much luck. But early on a Saturday morning, he and his younger brother, Joshua, went rollerblading in our little town. While they were rolling along, they both saw a painting contractor come out of his house and get into his company van.
The boys rounded the corner and continued on for another 50 yards before Jordan turned to Joshua and said, “I feel like I should go back and talk with that guy.”
Joshua was slightly annoyed. “Jordan, don’t go back there,” he responded. “Let’s rollerblade!” But Jordan persisted. He really felt like the Lord wanted him to go back. Frustrated, Joshua sat down on the curb. He told Jordan he would wait there for him to return. After a long period of time had elapsed, Joshua decided to get up and see what was taking Jordan so long.
He was surprised to find that the man had made an offer to Jordan.
“This guy has given me a job, Josh!” Jordan blurted out. “Just yesterday he put an ad in the paper looking for summer help. I also found out he’s a Christian.” If Jordan had been persuaded to continue rollerblading, he would have missed out on this unexpected answer to prayer for both him and the painting contractor.
There will be many situations in our lives when God prompts us to go somewhere or do something and it will require us stepping out in faith. Out of our comfort zone. The situation may seem extremely ridiculous in our eyes or even the eyes of others. But the Lord is looking to amaze us with what He can accomplish through small acts of obedience. However, most of the time we miss out on these tremendous opportunities because we are reluctant or unwilling to budge or let Him move through us.
We need to learn to faithfully listen to the Spirit’s promptings if we want to fully serve out His will for our lives. Sometimes, the Spirit will simply say, “Rise and go.” There are specific places God wants us to be, specific people he wants us to encounter, so that He can use us to minister to others in ways that are specific to a particular location or circumstance.
Judges 21:25 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” It is so easy to do what is right in our own eyes, or be swayed to do what is right in the eyes of our teachers, employers, family, or peers. But as followers of Christ, we must learn to choose what is “right in the eyes of the Lord.” To “go back,” step out, and not be swayed by our feelings or outside pressures.
God most often uses those who are out there looking, listening, and making themselves available. Francis Chan tells the story about a professor he had in Bible college who asked the question, “What are you doing right now that requires faith?” He remembers getting in his car that day and saying to himself, “I’m going to do something that requires faith.” So he drove into downtown L.A. and walked the streets, sharing his faith. He said that he was terrified, but he continued to go back week after week. During that time, he says, “I saw God come through in ways I had never experienced before.”
So what are you expecting from Jesus today? Are you looking for opportunities? What are you doing that requires selfless obedience? It took faith for Jordan to withstand the pressure of his little brother’s unfavorable response, go back, and strike up a conversation with a total stranger.