By Pam Morrison
“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’” Acts 8:26
A friend mentioned a nudge from God received on the job. He works in a nursing home. While seeing to the needs of an elderly resident recently, he felt the strong impression to pray for her right then. He prays regularly for those he serves, but silently, in obedience, he began to lift her to God.
What happened next was that this withdrawn woman with the glazed over look of so many institutionalized older adults, began to share about her life. “She just opened up and told me many things about herself,” said my young friend. Though filled with strong faith, he was pleasantly surprised about the reminder: God is with us every moment and will order our steps – giving us direction in the present. Why we’re surprised at His ready help and direction is curious. It’s there in His Word about His availability to those dependent on Him:
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21
A fictional book that I just finished has one character offer this thought, “The great lie of this broken universe is that God cannot be trusted and that we have to take care of ourselves. That’s the lie that snagged Eve.” (Jake Colsen, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore)
It’s the lie that can snag any of us – “Everything’s up to me. I’m on my own. I have to figure out what to do next.” And so comes the temptation not to pray or to pray with little hope and to act without having listened for guidance.
But God knows our needs before we speak them. He knows the needs of others and how we might intersect with them. He has plans not just for a distant future but for this day just as Jesus said,
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?..the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow…” Matthew 6:25, 32-34
This is a huge step to take in trusting God – to believe that He cares about THIS day and that He has mapped these 24 hours out for us, if we’ll lean on Him.
The story of Philip helps me to grasp this wonderful idea – that God cares about us moment to moment and will orchestrate a Divine schedule with us. Philip, along with most of the early Church, was driven out of Jerusalem by persecution, just when the Church was beginning to explode with growth. Philip had been named a church “deacon.” Fleeing to Samaria this “deacon for a season,” under God’s leading, stepped into the role of a powerful preacher, healer, and miracle worker. Then, again, under God’s leading and provision, he took the road into the wilderness to explain the gospel to one lone African man – a time of one on one ministry that led to the man’s baptism and some think, to Africa being invaded by the gospel.
After this, there were more towns. Philip went forward not knowing what would come next. He demonstrated an openness to being led daily.
One of the greatest shifts we can make as Christ-followers is to start each morning simply praying, “I’m here, Lord. What‘s on our schedule?” God will give impressions through His Word, other people, circumstances, the nudges in our hearts. There are, perhaps, certain things fixed on the calendar. Yet, believing that in the midst of this, God will bring what we have not planned, could not foresee, and cannot resource except by His strength, helps us to get up unruffled, hope-filled, and ready to touch other lives with His grace. And if you are in a difficult season, being able to stay focused and present, non-anxious about next week or next year because you hold onto the words, “I am with you,” is to know peace and usefulness in the storm.
Lord, bless THIS day. Keep us looking for Your presence moment by moment, trusting You and Your unfailing love. Amen
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Rev. Pam Morrison is a pastor and freelance writer who lives in Kansas. She has served five churches, from rural to mega-church. Her husband is a grant-writing consultant and teacher. They have two children, one married, and the other a graduate student in Indiana. Send Rev. Pam Morrison your comments
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