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November 21, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’”—Acts 8:26–29 (NIV)
Today’s Scripture paints the portrait of two men. Both travel through the desert; both are under the eye of God. Both men are bound to a destination but must first make the journey.
One man, an Ethiopian eunuch, has amassed great wealth. He has prominence, power, and a noble position all of which give him the means to acquire a sacred scroll—the Book of Isaiah. With his entourage, he travels back home from Jerusalem reading Isaiah as he rides.
The other man is Philip, a deacon within the church. Far from wealthy, but still a man with prominence, power, and a noble position all of which was a divine gift. Philip enjoyed a fruitful ministry in Samaria, performing many miracles leading to “much rejoicing in that city” (Acts 8:8 NASB).
Two very different men on two very different journeys; yet, in the desert, their paths cross. It’s unclear why the Ethiopian had traveled to Jerusalem. Perhaps he had some basic knowledge of God and wanted to know more. Why else would he travel two months (one way) and purchase an item of unimaginable cost? But God knows, and the man’s journey was God’s design to spread the gospel message abroad. Unbeknownst to him, God had him on a pragmatic course.
Philip’s course was less pragmatic—he had a verbal, divine directive. As such, it involved personal sacrifice. The ministry he had in Samaria was lucrative—the Spirit was moving; people were coming to faith in Jesus. Suddenly, the Lord called him away to the desert. It would be like working in a multimillion-dollar corporation and then hearing God tell you to resign and help with humanitarian projects in Africa. People would think you’re insane to go! But Philip didn’t hesitate. He followed the road God called him to take.
Robert Frost alludes to such a road in his poem “The Road Not Taken.” In it, he states, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” (emphasis mine). Sometimes God uses unconventional means to take us to the place He wants us to be—those places that make a difference. We don’t know why, but when we step out in obedience and faith as Philip did, we’re often put in the path of other people who are seeking Jesus, have the means to do so, but need someone else to come alongside to guide them.
Like these two men, we have roads to travel. Some are common sense, others require strong faith. Yet, along them, God reveals more of Himself to us—not in our destinations, but in our journeys.
Pause: Why would God move Philip from a place where good things were happening to a dry and desert place?
Practice: Do you ever feel the Lord calling you out of your comfort zone to a place where faith must supersede fear? If you have done this, be sure to share with others how the Lord used you to inspire them to do the same.
Pray: Lord Jesus, I know You left the 99 to go after the one. Help me to have that same heart, that same desire, obedience, and faith to go to the places and people You lead me to. For Your glory I will go. Amen.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.