Filled with Purpose 2013 05 05 Cinquo de Mayo Acts 16: Philiippi
Our faith journeys always have interesting twists and turns, usually with the accumulation of unanswered questions, and our destinations can have unexpected, and sometimes unwanted changes. To quote a mystic, we travel through a cloud of unknowing. The book of the Acts of the Apostles has many interesting, intriguing, and weird parts.
Paul asks Timothy to follow him, and then he has Timothy circumcised to as to not offend the Jews. Since seeing another person’s privates was avoided as much as possible, I wonder how any of the Jews Paul worried about could have found out Timothy was uncircumcised.
Their preaching had simple guidelines, and it worked well. I wonder what the guidelines were?
How did they know it was the Spirit that was blocking them?
The part about the pieces all coming together hit home. On Friday morning, Wendy and I were talking about a ramp from the sidewalk to the office entrance, and minutes later Wendy got a phone call offering to make a donation to the church for a specific purpose. Roy Kallestad visited an orchard as a potential new site for his church and met a couple who had been praying for 10 years that a church be built there. Time and again, when we are working for something good, we discover the Spirit has been there ahead of us preparing the way.
When they get to Philippi, they lingered there for several days. Were they like tourists, staying in some kind of place for visitors? Were they lingering like homeless people, sleeping somewhere on the street?
They went on the Sabbath to the river where rumor spoke of prayer meetings, and the group was all women. Lydia prevailed on them to stay at her place. I wonder what kind of rumours that could have started?
On the way to the prayer meetings, a slave girl with the gifts or curse of being a psychic starts telling everyone what they are about. To me this sounded like great free advertising, but it grated on Paul, and he cast out the demon that gave her this gift. This earned him the anger of her owners, resulting in arrest, beating and being jailed. The story of the earthquake was one of the stories I enjoyed from my childhood. I should explain that, when my parents bought their set of the Americana Encyclopedia, it came with a book called something like a Collection of Children’s Favourite Bible Stories, and it had many wonderful, full page, colour pictures. I now realize that many stories that are familiar to me are because I read them in that book, even stories that are rarely heard in worship. The story finishes with the earthquake, staying so as not to cause the guard problems, and finally leaving the city with dignity.
The story, along with the questions it provokes, gives us hope that, if we are doing God’s work, what we need will be provided. However, we can expect to get a few bruises along the way.
The element that struck me 6 weeks ago was what Paul endured as a consequence of being filled with purpose for serving the risen Jesus, whom he thought of as his master.
I look at the lives of people who have powerful purposes and what they accomplished or accomplish: Mother Teresa, Champlain, Albert Schweitzer, Bret Wilson, Stu Hart, and the list goes on. When we love our goals, and know ourselves, we can accomplish great things.
I invite you now to a time of reflection. Think about how having a clear purpose has affected you in your life. Consider what you might do to deepen your connection to God to help you see God’s purpose for you or any organization to which you may belong. Finally, take a little time to invite God into your heart and mind.