Acts 8:26 (the message)
Later God’s angel spoke to Philip: “At noon today I want you to walk over to that desolate road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza.”
Have you ever been confused and lonely all the while trying to obey God and follow His will? Ever looked around your once orderly life and thought, where the heck am I?
For what seemed like a really long stretch of road, I could not understand what God was doing with my life. Where He was leading or if He was still leading me at all! I tried everything I knew to do, everything I’d been taught, and yet no special Heavenly map or GPS Angel with a British accent appeared.
Once you’ve been on the road to somewhere, it’s hard walking the road to nowhere.
But walk I did.
Well, stumbled really. Crawled. Caught my breath on occasion and continued to put one melancholy foot ahead of the other. Honestly, I blamed myself a lot. I asked forgiveness for any and every thing I could think of.
I guess the truth is I saw the confusion and lonely road as some kind of punishment.
I battled discontent and confusion for the better part of two years. I read my Bible. I prayed broken, one sentence prayers. Some days I sat in silence while my heart spoke the things to God I couldn’t say out loud. I wanted ease. Fulfillment. A river of joy. I wanted a fresh vision for my future.
I wanted relief.
But on this desolate road I eventually learned to want Jesus more than ease, fulfillment or even vision and destiny. I learned the hard and dusty way how to let go of expectations…how things would look…how long they would last.
One assignment isn’t the only assignment. The latest directive not the last directive.
Now the only expectation I have is for God to love me completely and always be good. The rest, to me, is like discerning the direction of the wind. I’m learning to embrace the way He moves me.
A few months ago I sent a random text message to a dear friend. How, I asked, could I feel His love and presence and even fresh joy and yet still sense this nagging discontent? She encouraged me with something I hadn’t considered…
A holy discontent. An unease meant to actually lead me to listen. Keep my spiritual ears perked up. Ready me for His answer when it comes. Help me recognize the next road.
Big sigh, people. I don’t believe a one of us enjoys the desolate, sometimes lonely road of discontent. Of not knowing.
If you read on you’ll find that Philip obeyed. He knew God was leading him into the middle of no where and still he went. To me, that speaks volumes.
Relationship with Jesus makes room for trust and trust anchors us when nothing else will. Trust is the stuff of hard-walking. It’s the glue in our fall-apart. It’s the glimpse of light on a dark and lonely road.
Philip met an Ethiopian eunuch traveling on that desolate road. He was reading the book of Isaiah but couldn’t understand its meaning, so Philip explained how the scriptures referred to Jesus. The eunuch believed, stopped at a river to be baptized and then went on his merry way…back to Ethiopia with the light and gospel-truth of Jesus Christ in his heart.
Perhaps you can identify with the desolate road. The unexpected place of discontent when all you wanted was to follow Him.
May I encourage you?
Sometimes a stretch of desolate road is where He leads. You will hear things, see things and learn things out there. The dust may be blinding you. The heat might be making you thirsty. The discontent might feel like it’s killing your joy.
But you are meant for an encounter on that road.
So, that song that makes you cry? Because you feel His presence and love while it plays? Listen to it over and over and over. That verse that seems to be just for you? It is! Read it over and over and over. That message that pins you to your seat? Remember it over and over and over.
Keep going. Keep seeking. Keep trusting.
One remarkably normal day change will come.
You’ll know it has arrived in the sudden fade of your discontent.