The Anchor of Hope
An e-publication of Living Hope Presbyterian Church
July 23, 2014
Acts 8:25-29 And so, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans. (26) But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Arise and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) (27) And he arose and went; and behold, there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship. (28) And he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. (29) And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”
My wife, Jenny, and I had settled into our seats toward the back of the crowded plane. There had been a four hour delay with our flight. We were tired, but soon we would be taking off for the two hour flight home. As usual, I had chosen an aisle seat, so I could at least stretch out one leg. Jenny was settled in the middle seat beside me, so the window seat was open. Hopefully, I reasoned, no one would sit there, so we could flip up the arm rests and stretch out even more.
But then I saw her coming down the aisle – an older woman wearing a bright hat but looking tired. She seemed to struggle a bit as she made her way down the narrow passage. She stopped at our row and wearily asked if the window seat was taken. I tried not to sound disappointed as I told her it was not. Both Jenny and I did what we thought was the polite thing by standing up and stepping into the aisle, so she could take her seat without having to climb over us. Because of her large handbag, it wasn’t until she had dropped awkwardly into her seat that I saw her left arm was in a sling.
As Jenny and I retook our seats, the lady began to cry. The passenger across the aisle from me apparently heard her as well and gave me a smirk as if to say, “Enjoy your flight.” I politely smiled back and turned my attention to my wife’s ministrations to her new found “friend”, Virginia. Jenny requested to pray for her to which Virginia consented. She told Jenny about all of her troubles that day and how tired she was. For the rest of the flight, Jenny redirected Virginia’s mental gaze upward to spiritual things and outward to activities she would be doing on this her first visit to South Carolina. It did not take very long for her to be put at ease.
Divine Appointments. They are circumstances God has arranged for us to glorify Him by making a positive impact for His Kingdom. Defined in that way, every moment of our lives is a Divine Appointment. While that definition is true, there are times when God’s Hand seems more evident to our senses than at other times.
Take the verses above, for instance. Philip’s plans were completely changed because God had an appointment for him to keep with an Ethiopian court official. And because of Philip’s obedience, that “small” beginning began the conversion of the kingdom of Ethiopia into a Christian country, which for over 1000 years prevented Islam from moving into the heart of Africa.
Unlike Philip, we don’t audibly hear God’s voice giving us specific directions to His appointments, but those appointments are no less real. Our obedience is no less expected. But how many times does the Spirit’s spiritual, internal urgings get drowned out by our busyness and burdens? Far too often I fear. But even so, if we would follow the commands of God’s Word and look for those opportunities which He provides for us, our eyes would be far more open and our “spiritual ears” would be far more attuned to His will.
Of course, then there are those times when He quite literally drops someone or a situation beside you. We see clearly His hand is in it and that we have an assignment from our King. I am still amazed how easy it is for my wife to witness and converse with total strangers. But do not think we all would receive the same assignment, or would handle it in the exact same way. God schedules His appointments according to the person, abilities, and spiritual maturity. And sometimes He arranges an appointment just to convict you of sin or make you grow.
Always be on the lookout for Divine appointments.
Postscript: Divine appointments are not just assignments from our King, though such an idea is certainly enough for us to follow His lead. They are also a privilege. When God calls you to a task, He is honoring you with His trust in your obedience. Yes, all that we do is completed through His power and grace. But we are the instrument He has chosen though which He will show His power and grace. Apart from feeling the burden of responsibility, each and every one of us should be encouraged that He has decided to use us for the purpose of serving His Kingdom. We should then determine not to disappoint the Lover of our souls.