“May I have vision and courage to join God in the places He’s already working rather than feel responsible for bringing Him with me.” – From Prayer: 40 Days of Practice
One of my favorite stories about seeing God appears in the eighth chapter of Acts. The story features a man named Phillip, who was a member of the first-century Church, and an unnamed eunuch from Ethiopia. Phillip was on a journey south when he met the Ethiopian eunuch, who was riding in a chariot. Don’t ask me how Phillip knew the man was a eunuch. The Bible doesn’t say.
What the Bible days say is that Phillip heard the Spirit of God say, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” The Spirit doesn’t invite Phillip to go start a conversation or go say anything. The Spirit simply says “Go to… and stay near…”
What a perfect choice of words.
“Go to . . . and stay near . . . ” is not the language of religious agenda.
“Go to . . . and stay near . . . ” is not about getting something done.
“Go to . . . and stay near . . . ” is about being present. It seems to assume that God has already
Phillip went to the chariot and stayed there long enough to hear that the Ethiopian was reading aloud from the Hebrew Scriptures. Specifically, he was reading from verses in the book of Isaiah that Phillip’s newly formed Christian community read as describing Jesus. In other words, Phillip didn’t “bring the word of God” to the Ethiopian eunuch. In fact, Phillip didn’t even lead the conversation. Instead, he was led into a situation he was unfamiliar with and asked to “stay.” And only when he had clearly heard and seen that God was already present and active did he enter the process by asking, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The whole exchange was about what God was already up to. It was never about what Phillip could make happen. Phillip did not begin the process of faith for the Ethiopian; he was granted the opportunity to be a part of it.
I want to see that way. The way Phillip was challenged to see the Ethiopian. I want to assume God is present rather than wonder if He is or feel like I need to insert Him into a situation. I want to see God in more and various places and then help friends who already live in these places see him there. I want to see like that instead of seeing God in one, small place (on a Sunday morning around 10:00 am, for instance) and suggesting that those who want Him should meet me (and God) there.
NOTE: The above is adapted from my 2012 book CMYK: The Process of Life Together.
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