We talked about the Holy Spirit last week. He was promised to us by Jesus. We talked about how He sanctifies us and how He transforms us. This week I want to study the ways He helps us to be who we are called to be.
Have you ever felt that prompting in your heart to do something, maybe for someone, or to go do something specific and you just didn’t know why? There is a little story about an evangelist named Philip tucked away in the book of Acts that gives us some insight into how the Holy Spirit can work to direct our steps.
“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. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over and join this chariot.’ So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to come up and Sith with him.” Acts 8:26-31
Philip was so in tune with the Holy Spirit that he heard the Holy Spirit say to him to rise and go toward the south, and to what road and then he saw the Ethiopian studying and he felt the Holy Spirit tell him to go join this man’s chariot and eventually he was teaching the Ethiopian about Jesus. Now I know there are probably a lot of people who would say well that was in Bible times and would think this an outlandish story that may not happen today. Well I don’t have an exact story but I do have a story of someone who did something for me who was following the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
Several years ago I was going through a particularly hard time, and I had a friend who was going through an even harder time. Our worlds had been rocked a bit. We had been stay at home moms together and had forged a friendship and she had had to return to work because of some circumstances in her world and I was keeping her children for her. One day after I had put all the children, hers and mine, down for a nap, I went to my sofa and I prayed for encouragement and strength. I was glad I could be doing this for my friend, but selfishly, I missed my friend too. I missed our old life where we would hang out while our children had play dates. Now our children were having their play dates all the time, but I was lonely for the friendship she and I had enjoyed. And, well, I was just tired. Well, I remember sitting on my sofa and having a little pity party and asking the Lord to help me. An hour or two later, there was a knock on my front door and as I opened the door, there was another friend there. She looked at me and she held up one paper bag and she said “I brought dinner for …” (our mutual friend, the one whose children I was keeping) and she held up the other hand which had another paper bag and she said and “I brought dinner for you too”. I think I started crying at that moment, and I told her how I had just an our or two earlier sat down and asked the Lord for some strength and some encouragement. This friend at my doorstep told me that just a couple of hours earlier she had a thought all of a sudden that she wanted to do something not only for our friend who was going through the tough time but that she wanted to do something for me too. I can still remember her smile and her saying to me. “I’m so glad I listened.”
I am sure I have had times that I have listened and I have had times that I missed it. I pray that I will spend enough time with Him that I will know His voice when He is prompting me to do for someone else. Much like Philip did and my friend at the doorstep. Because she listened, the Lord answered my prayer for encouragement, through a dinner in a paper bag. And you know what, I can still remember her sweet smile as I told her about my prayer that said to me that she received a blessing from being the blessing too. Oh may we always listen.