Sorry for the blasphemous title to this blog but I only wrote what you have probably subconsciously thought many times. Let’s face it, every time we sin it’s because we have determined somewhere in our heart that God didn’t think about me or what I was going to go through when he made that rule. But what about those times when you are actually walking with the Lord, doing what He has asks of you, and more importantly thriving and then God throws you a curve ball? Suddenly, He says to you, “You’ve done great! You have allowed the Holy Spirit to work through you, you have been productive and you have been obedient. Now take yourself out of the game.” To this you may initially respond, “Huh?!?” Followed up by, “But I’m not done and You even told me that I’ve been doing well! Why am I being taken out???” Then God says, “…”. Though the scenario above has a spiritual tone to it, I’ve had instances where God did this to me in my secular career too. No matter what the circumstance, it is certainly frustrating and at times infuriating. Sometimes, there’s not a lot of comfort in hearing someone say in (what sounds like) a condescending tone, “God’s plans are bigger than our plans.” But once we stop pouting and allow the truth of that statement to soak in, we are flooded by His comfort.
Case in point, a man named Philip. If you don’t know the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch you are missing out. Read it when you can. Philip was a man who lived in the time right after Christ went to Heaven. The gospel was being persecuted, Stephen had just become the first martyr to die for the gospel and Christians were being scattered everywhere to avoid being caught and killed. Philip went to a place called Samaria and the Bible says specifically, He preached Christ to them. Not only did he preach, he was being used by the Holy Spirit to perform great miracles. He was driving out demons and healing the paralyzed and lame. As a result of his preaching, miracles and of course the Holy Spirit, the Bible says multitudes believed. It also says there was great joy in that city. Can you imagine how Philip must have been feeling? Samaria was not some small podunk town. This was a big city, so when the Bible says multitudes, it means multitudes. Also, there is no other worker mentioned with Philip, so God was doing all of this stuff through just him. As a Christian, I cannot imagine how awesome it must have felt to be used by God in such a huge and tangible way! So what happens next? The author interjects a story about someone else and a few verses later we come back to Philip and this is what we read:
Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” This is desert. Acts 8:26
You have to put yourself in Philip’s shoes (sandals) to grasp what the angel was saying. Basically he said, “Leave the big city where you have been helping a lot of people and walk to the desert.” The desert. Who lives in the desert? No one. And why don’t they live in the desert? Duh. And here’s the first part of the following verse:
So he arose and went. Acts 8:27
Let me just point out that no where does the Bible record Philip asking why or the angel of the Lord offering that information to Philip. Philip just got up and went…to the desert.
Once Philip gets to the desert, he spots a chariot and the Holy Spirit tells him to approach it. It turns out the man in the chariot was an Ethiopian eunuch. He was a high-ranking public official. It’s worth noting that he was not the type of person or ethnicity that Philip would have ordinarily come across. Even more unusual, Philip heard the man reading one of Isaiah’s prophecies about Jesus. In the early days of the church, the idea of evangelizing the whole world and all races was very foreign to most of God’s people. Up until Jesus, it was thought only Jews would go to heaven. Therefore, the average evangelist in that day would have hesitated approaching the Ethiopian eunuch but the Holy Spirit told him to do it, and Philip did without hesitation. Again we are told in verse 35 that Philip preached Jesus to him. The Ethiopian accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior and even got baptized right then and there. Yes, God provided Philip with water enough to dunk a full size man in this desert. Although we are not specifically told, can you imagine what happened when the Ethiopian went back home? Verse 39 says that he returned home rejoicing. Most likely, the gospel spread out even further through him.
Philip had more than enough reasons to doubt and to hesitate but he didn’t. He completely trusted in the sovereignty of the Lord. What God had asked him to do really didn’t make sense from a human perspective but only a divine perspective can accomplish big things. It’s also important to note that whether Philip talked to the crowds in Samaria or the Ethiopian in the desert, the Bible says specifically, he preached Christ. He didn’t allow doubt to come in and change the initial instructions he was given. You might be thinking, Yes, that’s great for Philip but he had an angel talk to him AND the Holy Spirit talk to him. I have never gotten an audible from God. Truth be told, our pouting and frustration do not come from personal indignation that God’s plans aren’t being followed, those reactions happen when our plans are not being followed. When God throws you a curve ball and you cant see the why or the how remember the story of Philip and keep in mind the following verses. These are not just empty words, they are promises and truths.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9