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Day 28—Saturday, March 16

Acts 8:26-31

Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.


It often seems like yesterday that I sat across the table from my younger sister and brother-in-law to learn they were heading to the mission field in Southeast Asia. Surely, I had misheard that my only sibling had responded to a call to serve God halfway around the world. At the time my sister and her husband had two young children with a third on the way. What were they thinking to move their young family to an unknown culture that was predominately Buddhist; to a place they did not speak the language, would be far from family and friends, and without the conveniences of western society?


As I have reflected on that conversation, I have wondered why I was so bewildered by their decision. My sister and brother-in-law had forever, prayerfully sought God’s direction in their lives. They prayed and then watched and listened while they waited for a response. They were obedient to a life that aligned with God’s will. Their relationship with God was different than mine at the time and very much like Philip’s relationship with God.


While serving as an evangelist in Samaria, the Holy Spirit told Philip to go south from Jerusalem to Gaza. Philip responded in obedience. He got up and went without knowing God’s why. As he walked along the wilderness road, the road the Holy Spirit had told him to take, Philip encountered a chariot carrying an Ethiopian eunuch traveling south from Jerusalem. Philip continues to listen to the Holy Spirit who tells him to go over to the passing chariot.


He ran without hesitation to the chariot carrying a stranger of apparent rank, who was engaged in reading - reasons to perhaps not approach the chariot. The eunuch was a man of faith, a Jew or Jewish proselyte who had been in Jerusalem at the time of Passover. He was returning to Ethiopia with a curiosity. He was reading Isaiah 53 - the passage that speaks of Jesus the Messiah. I imagine he asked important questions about the scripture he was reading. Who is the prophet talking about? Who willingly offered himself as a sacrificial lamb? Who humbled himself to face injustice? Philip’s response to the Holy Spirit’s call provided an opportunity to explain the prophecy of Isaiah to a curious mind. Through the grace and design of God, the eunuch was led to a life in Christ allowing the Gospel to spread throughout the African continent.


In the 34 years since I sat at that table with my sister and brother-in-law, I like to believe I have become more like the eunuch and Philip. Life has challenged my faith to lean in with an open heart and mind, and with curiosity and obedience, to experience God’s goodness. While I may never be called to teach and serve God around the world, may I forever seek opportunities to grow and serve Him wherever I am planted.


-Paula Derbyshire

 

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