Philip turned his head to take one last glimpse of Samaria. He had left suddenly because of the clear voice of God’s Angel, saying ” Philip, get up and go South to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza.” Why was God calling him to leave the crowds in Samaria, and inviting him to travel alone into the desert? He had fled Jerusalem after his friend, Stephen, had been martyred to share the Good News to the Samaritans. With the Holy Spirit’s help, he had cast out demons, and performed many miracles. But most importantly, Joy came to Samaria, because the Samaritans had received the Good News and many believed!
He walked further and further down the desert road, waiting and listening to hear again from God. Up ahead in the road, his eyes met a chariot, and he immediately heard the Holy Spirit speak to him, ” Go over and join this chariot”. He pulled up his robe, and he ran, until he had reached the chariot. Sitting on the chariot was a man reading words that Philip recognized from the Book of Isaiah. He asked the man if he understood what he was reading. The man replied, ” how can I, unless someone guides me?” The man had explained that he was a eunuch from Ethiopia. He had traveled all the way to Jerusalem to worship God, but was not allowed into the temple. He decided to purchase the Holy Book and try to learn what Isaiah the prophet had written. The eunuch said to Philip, “will you please come and sit by me for awhile so I will know the meaning of these beautiful words?” And the eunuch reached out his hand, and as Philip extended his hand to grasp it, he pulled him up into his chariot. (Two strangers sitting side by side on a chariot, in the desert, who were joined by God. What a beautiful sight! ) As soon as Philip sat down, next to the foreigner, he felt a deep sense of peace from the Holy Spirit, that he had safely arrived at his destination point. “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken from the earth”.
The eunuch asked Philip who the man was in the passage. Perhaps he had seen his own self in these words as his mind raced back to the day he had laid on the floor, writhing in pain, helpless as a lamb, while the men had taken away what God had created him to be, and afterwards told him, ” A new eunuch for the Queen”. He had been forever changed, and justice had been denied him. As Philip began to explain who the man was, Jesus Christ, and he shared the Gospel, the Ethiopian believed the Good News as he listened intently to Philip’s words. Soon their was water near the desert road, and the eunuch asked Philip to baptize him. The chariot stopped and they both got out and went down into the water. Philip baptized the eunuch, and as soon as they came up, the eunuch turned to thank Philip, but he was not there, he had disappeared! The Ethiopian got back into his chariot rejoicing. But, the same Holy Spirit whose words had caused Philip to run to the foreigner in the chariot, had now miraculously carried away Philip to the town of Azotus.
When I read this true story in Acts 8:26-40, I see clearly how God’s Holy Spirit continues to call us today, out from the Crowd, to run to the One. His love is for the One, and he invites us to join Him on His mission to go and reach the One. It may be alone, like Philip, that he calls us to go, but with His Spirit never leaving us. He may call us first, to go to the desert places, and out of our comfort zones. It’s in the desert, we have no distractions from the crowd, and and there’s plenty of quiet time to sit, listening at the feet of Jesus as we travel a new road with Him. For it’s only in the quiet places, as we wait His instructions, that we hear His voice. It’s only in the quiet places that we can answer the call, by faith, and say, “Yes, Lord”
This Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, when He left the splendor of Heaven, and His One and only Father, to give himself to the crowd, the World, let’s be willing to leave our comfort zone, and run to the One, as His Spirit leads us. Which of these may He be calling us to run to, and share His love? Is it the lonely orphan, foster child, or widow? Is it the one without a home? Is it the single parent? Is it the woman who is pregnant, but the father is no where to be found? Is it the student down at the school who needs a mentor to listen and talk to them during lunch? Is it the elderly one down at the nursing home? Is it the refugee who needs shoes, clothes, or food? Is it the foreigner who needs help with English? We don’t have to look far to find them in our community. As I listen to the Holy Spirit show me clearly, “run to this One,” and I follow His lead, each time, I am “carried away” afterwards! Not in the supernatural sense as Philip was, but in the sense of a “spiritual high” and the peace of knowing and following Him. There is nothing in this world to compare to following Jesus and sharing His love to others.