So why do you suppose Paul was so open to receiving and responding to the vision which had him traveling to Macedonia? What convinced him that this was God’s call?
This is how I have come think about this in the last few days:
I had lunch with our local chief of police the other day.
He wanted to share with me his thoughts about a police chaplaincy program which he has been working to implement for some time. He was inviting me to be part of the conversation.
Truth be told, I walked downtown for this lunch feeling heavy-hearted and more than a little overwhelmed. I was pretty certain I was going to be asked to add to an already full calendar and while I knew it would be interesting and important, I did not know how I could possibly do one more thing.
Over the course of 45 minutes and a soup and sandwich I learned things about our community which I had not known before. I heard a lot about the needs of people who are often invisible to most of us most of the time. And I heard about the pressures borne by those who are called upon to respond. I heard about the need for help.
Now I have to say that it was not a hard sell conversation at all. It turned into a time of mutual sharing and wondering and the more I listened I began to come to a place where I understood that this conversation might open new doors for our shared ministry in the congregation I serve. I did not yet commit, however. I asked for time to be in conversation with members and leaders with whom I share ministry.
Regardless of what comes next, though, here is one thing I will not soon forget:
As I gathered up my things to leave, the one across the table said this to me,
“Pastor Janet, here is your mission: As you are walking back to church, wonder about what God was saying to you in the last hour. What is it that you are supposed to take from this? What are you meant to learn?”
Too often I am not present enough in my day to ask these sorts of questions:
- God, how are you speaking now? What are you saying?
- What do you want me to take with me and what do you want me to leave behind?
- What am I meant to learn from this?
These are good questions, it seems to me. In their very essence they presume that God is active in the ins and outs and options of our days. And yet, too, too often, I do not pause long enough to listen, long enough to hear. I wonder what would happen if that should change. Indeed, I wonder what I would hear if I were even half as open as Paul was in today’s reading from Acts where he receives a vision of a man in Macedonia calling to him and so he and Silas simply go.
This much I do know. I definitely will not receive such visions if I do not open my eyes, my ears, my heart to see and hear God calling.
It took our chief of police to bring this home to me in a way I will not soon forget.
And so I offer this to you now:
We are all too busy. There are a thousand ways we can spend our days, our energies, our efforts.
Choices abound. In the midst of this abundance of choices, what would it mean if we simply wondered how God is speaking in the midst of all of this?
- Indeed, might we then find ourselves, like Paul, called to “Macedonia,” too?
- What do you suppose would happen if we then simply ‘set sail’ and went?
- And what sorts of surprises might be waiting us there?
- Who might we meet by the river outside of town who would change the course of mission for the church and for each and all of us?
- And where and with whom might we discover and receive unexpected hospitality?
This much I know. Paul was open to seeing the vision God offered him.
I wonder how I might be more open in this way.
I wonder how we all might be more open in this way.
Surely it could be that it starts with the kinds of questions our local chief of police posed the other day.
What do you think?