By Carol Becwar
Over many years of growing in faith, studying the Bible, and participating in scripture discussions, I've learned to recognize the Holy Spirit working in me. I've never had dreams or visions that I could say with any confidence came from God. But I have developed the habit for watching, waiting, and listening. I pray that the Spirit will help me to understand God's will for me, His call on my life.
I am so impressed with Philip, an evangelist who spent a lot of time sharing the gospel and bringing people into the church community. In Acts 8: 26-40, I see a man who is ready at all times to listen and act in obedience to God's call on him. An angel of God tells Philip to “walk over to that desolate road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza”. He does not hesitate. He does not fear the possible dangers. He gets up and gets going.
And before long, he learns what his mission trip is all about. When he sees the chariot heading toward Ethiopia, the Spirit tells him to climb in with the passenger. While he initially may not be certain about what God wants him to do, he runs up to the chariot. There he sees the eunuch, “minister in charge of all the finances of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians”. He hears him reading from Isaiah and asks, “Do you understand what you're reading?”
At this point, Philip has to know he'll be sharing the good news with this stranger. If I'd gotten that assignment from the Holy Spirit, what might I have said to break the ice? Would I nervously blurt out my credentials as an evangelist? Or perhaps struggle to even get a word out? Maybe. But Philip was prepared to follow his calling. He opens the conversation with a question focused on a man who is searching for answers.
Meanwhile, I believe that the Spirit had already instilled the man in the chariot with curiosity. The eunuch had already turned to scripture. He was ready to listen when Philip appeared out of nowhere. There's a lesson for me. To seek wisdom from God and to delve into scripture, praying for insight. To listen and be willing to share my faith with others God may set in my path.
I love how The Message describes Philip's actions: “Philip grabbed his chance. Using this passage [from Isaiah] as his text, he preached Jesus to him.” He wastes no time. He squanders no opportunity to share the Good News.
Once he has shared the gospel with the gentleman from Ethiopia and has baptized him, Philip's work here is done. He doesn't seem fazed when the Spirit whisks him away and sets him down in Azotus, where he continues preaching. Philip's work is not finished.
My work is also far from done. I need to continue listening for God's direction, be open to the Spirit's teaching and guidance, and share the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. Will I be perfect at the job? Will I ever feel fully prepared when God places me, like Philip, right where I need to be? Not likely. But it isn't about me, is it? It is about allowing God to work through me, loving his children enough to speak boldly and without hesitation about the salvation that comes through belief in Jesus Christ.