Dearest Members of Bethlehem,
“The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon us.” -Acts 16:14-15
The little passage above is about Lydia, an early champion of the Christian Church. She is a fascinating figure, a true inspiration. Why?
Well, she’s one in whom God was obviously working. The text clearly states that the “Lord opened her heart.” This is an important detail, consistent with the rest of the New Testament, which insists that it is God that is doing the calling and conversion through the power of the Spirit.
But, having said that, I still want to give Lydia the credit that she has coming to her. Just think about how she is described here, “a dealer in purple cloth.” This would have been a fairly high-end business in Jesus’ time. Only the wealthy would have been purchasing such a luxury. Lydia, as a woman, would have likely had to work just a little harder to be a successful merchant.
Why do I mention all this? Because, despite the pressures that she would have been facing, she permits the Lord to work in her life. She sets aside the demands of the day at least momentarily to listen to the message that Paul had to share. And then… she disregards the potential social and economic implications of joining this new religious movement, and has her household - her whole household! - baptized.
And, if we’re reading the text closely we also get the impression that she served as a bit of an inspiration. Indeed, following this glorious communal conversion experience, she urged Paul to slow his progress for just a bit as well, and stay with her. The text puts it so beautifully, “And she prevailed upon us.”
Goals, hopes, aspirations, and agendas are of critical importance in this life, there’s absolutely no way that I could refute the fact that progress is essential. However, there are also plenty of holy sacred moments in which we are invited to slow our pace and simply savor the time we have and the company we keep.
When these occasions open up before us, let’s think of our dear friend Lydia, and even the consummately passionate Paul, and be reminded… it’s okay to be still for just a bit. The Lord may be at work in you, opening your heart, and there might be another schedule “prevailing upon” the one that you had been previously committed to.
Question for reflection: What best augments your time with friends and siblings in Christ; food, music, conversation, or maybe something else?
Yours in Christ,
Gracious Lord, there are so many demands competing for our time attention, amid them all, remind us that only you can bring true fulfillment. For those glorious moments when you interrupt our lives with an epiphany so astounding that we simply cannot ignore it, we thank and praise you. We pray this all in Jesus’ name, Amen.