“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’” Acts 8:26 (NIV)
Philip the Apostle was in the midst something truly amazing in the city of Samaria. God was working through him as he performed all manner of miracles and preached the gospel to an eager, receptive crowd. We’re told in verse six “there was great joy in the city”— good times for sure. He was certainly where God wanted him to be, and must have been buzzing… and then an angel appeared to him.
And told him to take the DESERT road.
Really? Here he was, filled with the Holy Spirit slap bang in the middle of a city revival, and God wanted him to leave that behind and take the desert road? Barren, dusty, dry. Not to mention the fact that the angel didn’t even drop a hint about the agenda in said desert.
But Philip doesn’t hesitate. He obeys immediately. No questions asked. He doesn’t suggest that maybe next week would be better because he’s kind of in the middle of something right now, and it IS a ministry thing. He doesn’t volunteer his buddy to go in his place, who is definitely more boho and desert-ish.
Even if it means walking the desert road.
Oh my. What happens when we are called to take the desert road? Just when everything is comfortable and tickety-boo, something rocks our pleasure boat. It might not be an angel with an audible message, but it may be a person or cause or ministry that confronts us and we know it’s a God thing, but it’s going to be uncomfortable and possibly a barren, dirty, dusty experience, but it’s there before us. And God’s there, too— waiting for our reaction.
Should our obedience be instantaneous? Like our friend Philip? He didn’t dilly-dally and hold prayer meetings and seek wisdom from godly brothers on the matter. He up and went. Boom. But shouldn’t we PRAY about it and stuff? This unfamiliar desert in the form of a person/ experience/ place/ cause will put the rest of our life off-kilter, and it’s going to be a big deal. We DEFINITELY need to bathe it in prayer. I don’t want to be on some crazy desert road that’s not in God’s will for my life. Pray, pray, Pray.
But Philip was SO in the zone. He devoted his life to Christ, and was fully tuned to God’s whispers, so when the message came for him to up and leave, he knew for sure it was the Lord’s will and he was absolutely ready. His faith was strong, and his agenda was all God’s. Wow. I need to spend serious time with the Lord to be in that place of surrender. To be willing to take the desert road without question and excuses and fussing and procrastination…
If you are familiar with this story, you’ll know that Philip’s desert road resulted in a saved soul. An Ethiopian eunuch, no less. Yes, it was just one man in comparison to a city full of miracles and conversions in Samaria, but I think this would have been especially profound for Philip. God loved this eunuch deeply enough to call Philip to the particular road on which he was travelling. And for Philip, it must have been an unforgettable blessing. Here was this random guy in a chariot perusing the Scriptures, who actually ASKED Philip for answers and clarity, and as a result was saved and then insisted Philip baptize him right away. Whoa.
It was a good day on the desert road.
I don’t know about you, but personally, I don’t want to miss out on a good day on any desert road God has lined up for me. If I’m full of me, myself and I, there will be no room for Him. I don’t want to look back and kick my silly self for being such a preoccupied naval-gazer that I missed opportunities to show the love of Christ on desert roads with desert people, whether that be in my hometown or way beyond. And isn’t that what we are all called to do?
Show the love of Christ on every road we find ourselves…
Only in His strength,
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