Revelation 21:10, 21:22-22:5
Peace be with you!
What does God want me to do? Where does God want me to go? How does God want me to spread the good news? No matter what life stage you are in, these questions run through your mind, especially on days when things do not make sense. We expect teenagers and even college students to feel a bit lost as they begin to look for their place in the world. They are just entering the world as adults with their own opinions and ideas; they are looking for ways to leave their mark on the world and to make a difference.
What happens when adults have a successful career, but they begin to feel lost in the shuffle? Their boss no longer values their input and ideas. Their industry begins to take a new direction in the world, leaving them behind in the process. The company downsizes and lays off the older generation in order to focus on the new ideas and ways of the younger generation. People are forced to find new callings at different times in their lives.
Throughout our entire lifetime, we are moving from one transition to another. Relationships end; situations change; people move; supply and demand fluctuates; societies evolve; technology gets faster and more efficient. Life as we know it today will not be the same in a year.
In our reading today, Paul is at a crossroads. He has travelled throughout Galilee and Judea spreading the good news about the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Paul has wanted to go into Asia to share the good news, but the Holy Spirit always stopped him (Acts 16:7). Now Paul has a dream about a man calling him to Macedonia, a Roman province just north of Greece (Acts 16:9).
Paul and his companions, Silas and Timothy, go to Macedonia to share the good news with the people there (Acts 16:10). The three men are convinced the Lord is calling them to share the good news with a man in Macedonia. After travelling for a few days, Paul, Silas, and Timothy arrive in Macedonia and spend the next week getting to know the area (Acts 16:12). It takes a few days for the men to find the individual who the Lord sent them to share the good news with. Unfortunately, the Lord did not give Paul a name or even a physical description of the man.
At some point in our lives, we have all been a little lost as to where and what the Lord is calling us to do. You got your Masters of Divinity so you could be a pastor, but you can’t find a church position anywhere. You got a business degree, only to find out that the pressures of the corporate world are too much for you. When you started your degree, the economy was booming, but four years later, the economy no longer supports the unique job you dream about. The [whatever “it” is] prefect scenario is never there when you are ready for it – and if it is take it.
Then there are the relationships in our lives, which are also always undergoing change. The girl who has always been there for you through breakups and transitions is suddenly your whole world…and then your wife! Or perhaps the guy who you married and promised to spend the rest of your life with walks out the door after six years. Suddenly, the world crashes around you, and you wonder what happened
Transitions are life’s necessary changes to help us grow and make us wiser and stronger. They are exciting, because they mean new possibilities to experience, new people to meet, and new places to go. However, transitions are also scary because we are stepping out on a limb. We know the Lord is here [wherever “it” is], but how?
Paul is asking the Lord why he has called him to Macedonia. The man in his vision has not made himself known to Paul. Where do you start in a new region? Who do you approach first? Who will listen? How do you know people will be receptive to your message of the good news?
The three men come to a place of prayer on the Sabbath and spend time talking to the women who are gathered there (Acts 16:13). Lydia listens to the men talking, and the Lord opens her to hear and to accept the good news (Acts 16:14). Brian Peterson writes on Working Preacher, “At this crucial point, Paul practically disappears from the story. It is not the charismatic personality of the pastor or preacher that has the power to create faith; it must come from God’s own merciful activity. From beginning to end, this text stresses that it is God who is in charge of the mission, God who sets its direction, and God who determines its results” (Peterson 2013). Paul is not at the central of the mission – God is.
Lydia and her whole household are baptized, and the three men stay at her home (Acts 16:15). Paul expected to share the good news with a man, but he finds himself alongside a river with a group of woman who accept his message.
God’s plan is not always clear. Sometimes it is exhausting to figure out where God is calling you. At some points, it would be easier to walk away and do something easier and more fun. Yet along the way, you see God’s blessings, love, and grace. This is what makes transitions worthwhile.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending people into our lives to share the good news with us. Help us through the transitions in our lives. Guide us as we answer your calling. Catch us as we stumble around. Help us to figure out how our callings further your mission. Thank you for the many blessings in our lives. Amen.
Peterson, B. (2013 йил 5-April). Commentary on Acts 16:9-15. Retrieved 2013 йил 3-May from Working Preacher: http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1627
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. What kind of transitions are you going through?
2. How do you feel the Lord is calling you?
3. Where do you see God’s blessings in your life?