Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Holy Pause

“How are you?”   “Great, busy.”  How many times are we asked that question, “How are you?”  And we reply the same....”good, but busy.”  So often I have said those words and then in the back of my mind think...”just what am I so busy with?”  

We are all busy.   Our days are filled with work and our careers, taking care of family, organizing our homes, grocery shopping, making meals, appointments and volunteer work, to name a few of the jobs that keep us running from one minute to the next.   On top of the normal survival mode we find ourselves in, we volunteer outside of the home for numerous tasks that help and aid others.  All these are good and necessary for the most part.  But when did we take a pause from that which is good, to perhaps experience a bit of the best?

On a side note, I am doing a Bible study with some wonderful women on the Biblical concept of the Sabbath.  It is amazing and opening my mind (as well as my heart) to learning to build margins in my life for a Sabbath when to say no. Also, to say no to what keeps us on the "treadmill of life" and respond with a yes to what is really important for this season in our lives, and let go of the rest.

Philip in the book of Acts chapter 8 was also busy.  God had allowed the first disciples to be scattered beyond the borders of Jerusalem.  This happened shortly after Stephen was stoned in that great city.  Philip ended up in a city in Samaria.  Not a place where the Jewish people normally socialized.  The Samaritans were a people they avoided and disdained, due to historical conflict. For some unknown, but probably Spirit-led reason, Philip finds himself there preaching the Gospel.  The middle portions of chapter 8 reveal Philip busy proclaiming the Messiah, performing miracles, casting out demons and impure spirits, and healing the lame and paralyzed.  Yes, I’d say he was a busy boy.  Busy with good.  Busy with God’s work.  A good busy.

Now right in the middle of this busy-ness, an angel of the Lord whispers to Philip (verse 26), to go to a desert road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.  He goes.  But I wonder if he didn’t think “Excuse me, I am busy here.  People are being healed and hearing about the Messiah. Good things are happening. I don’t have time to go down south.”  At any rate, he went.  

The story goes on to tell us he met an Ethiopian.  He listened to the angel and went up to a chariot where the Ethiopian was sitting and reading Scripture.  The man didn’t understand what he was reading so Philip explained it to him.  They rode together in the chariot discussing what the words meant.  As they came near water, the Ethiopian wanted to be baptized, so they took the time to stop and Philip baptized this spiritual hungry man.  When they emerged from the water, Philip was “taken away” by the Spirit of the Lord and later was seen in Azotus where he continued preaching.  The Ethiopian, I am sure was a little more than surprised, but went on his way rejoicing, probably all the way back to Africa.  The Gospel found its way south.

Philip was busy.  Doing good things.  Doing Godly things.  But the Spirit spoke to him to “stop” and do something else.  Go somewhere else.  Talk to someone in another place.  Take the time to stop and listen.  And subsequently, the Gospel went to Africa.

I heard this phrase recently  “a holy pause”.  This says volumes to me.  Do we (I) take a holy pause in the middle of my busy-ness of doing His work, when a still small voice asks me to do something different?  Do I recognize the pauses the Lord might be asking me to take?  

A few years back, I was rushing to the grocery store to pick up some much needed items.  I had a small amount of time to get it done before I had to pick up my kids from school.  No sooner had I walked in the door and headed down the first aisle than I saw a woman I knew but hadn’t seen for some time.  She was a lovely woman, but a talker and I knew if I stopped, I would be stuck.  I had a schedule I needed to keep to.  However, I felt that nudging and still small voice told me to stop.  (I confess there are times in the past, where I have walked down a different aisle to just get the job done and not take time for others when I was in a hurry).  This time I stopped.  

We took a few moments to greet each other and catch up.  I asked how her family was.  The door opened, or rather the floodgates opened very wide, and she began to share some heartache about her son.   We moved over to the side of the aisle so others could pass.  I listened.  And I listened some more.  A good fifteen minutes passed when she realized she needed to get going.  I assured her I would be praying for her son and her family.  I took a further few minutes to do the unthinkable....and perhaps a tad embarrassing to her....I stopped and prayed for her right there, in the side aisle of the grocery store.  We hugged and went our separate ways.   Thank the Lord, my children went to a school where if you were late for whatever reason, they were watched and taken care of until you arrived.  All was well.

About a week later, I received a thank you note in the mail.  This dear lady thanked me for taking the time.  Who stops in the middle of the store and the busy-ness, and listens?  Who stops and prays in the most unorthodox places for a troubled soul?  She was so grateful for the time and was deeply encouraged to keep believing for her son.  She felt she could go on.

I was humbled and so glad I had stopped.  The Gospel touched a hurting woman in the middle of Safeway.  A son was prayed for.  A mother’s heart was encouraged and strengthened.  Because a holy pause took place and lives were touched.

Photo Credit: visual photos

Philip took a holy pause.  So many of us need to.  Miracles can happen when we do.  Otherwise, we could miss out on God and something He wants to do in a very special moment in the life of a very special person.  If we pause and listen..  


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