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But for Philip
by theburningbushboy Solanke
3/21/2016 / Short Stories
The story you are about to read is a personal experience of what happened on my way back from Jerusalem where I had gone to worship the God of the Jews. It would have ended on a sad note for me, but somehow, an intervention turned it around positively.
I am not a Jew, but an Ethiopian worshipping the God of the Jews. I cannot really say how I got to know and started worshipping Him, but I think one thing must have led to another. Somehow, I found myself making annual trips to Jerusalem where God is believed to have set up His throne. You can say that I go there yearly to worship as part of merely fulfilling a tradition.
However, as meticulous as I have been attending this event, there was a year I couldn't attend. I recall that I could not visit Jerusalem that year because of a pressing national assignment. Oh! Have I told you that I am the Minister of Finance of my country? Due to an urgent demand to prepare the budget for its presentation by Madam President, I was put on my toes and for that year, which I later learnt was the year that brought a change to Christianity, I couldn't visit Jerusalem.
I learnt, afterwards, that it was the year the disciples of Jesus suddenly began to speak in different languages, so much that all those who came to Jerusalem heard them speaking in their languages. The Parthians and Medes, the Elamites and the dwellers of Mesopotamia and in Judaea and Cappadocia in Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene and strangers of Rome, Jews and Proselytes, Cretes and the Arabians, were all amazed to hear the disciples speak their different languages. (Acts 2:5-11)
It was one meeting I ought not to have missed; an encounter nobody should pray to miss. You know it's funny, or should I say, it's sad that good things always happen the day you choose to be absent from His presence. I had been attending, so why should such a landmark experience occur the very year I was hindered to attend? I could have had a firsthand experience of the visitation of the Holy Spirit on the day of the Pentecost, but I ended up hearing about it from those blessed to be in attendance.
Dear reader, may nothing be strong enough to keep you away from where God had planned to move. I pray that God will not move behind your back. Amen.
Anyway, after missing that encounter, I began to ensure that nothing would ever keep me away from Jerusalem again. Not desiring to miss anything from the yearly event, I started attending with more vigor. Ask me what I was looking for and I will tell you, I wanted back the experience I missed the visitation and touch of the Holy Spirit.
This particular year, I went with so much expectation in my heart, but sadly, nothing happened to me. My life was as empty as I took it there. I was returning the same person, if not in a worse condition that I attended the Pentecost feast. What really went wrong with/in me?
Why should I attend a place generally adjudged that God is and yet I go back without meeting Him? What kept me from entering His presence? There were questions in my heart as I returned to Ethiopia.
For instance, what would I be telling Madam President and others I left behind at home about the meeting? Would I say it was indeed great when nothing great happened to/in me? Would I not have to cover up as I have always done over the years pretending I touched something when nothing actually came my way? I was in a pensive mood as I returned home.
Determined not to go back empty and as though I could help myself, I recall asking my driver to stop the chariot. As it stopped, I picked out the Scripture and opened to Isaiah 53, which was the central focus of the meeting I was coming from. Although a lot were said from this passage at the meeting, I didn't grab anything life transforming.
Nevertheless, I decided to read again that portion of the Scripture, perhaps this time around, a light will break forth from it. I read, but lo and behold, nothing happened! Nothing I read made any meaning to me. No doubt, I could pick out the words of the scripture, but the true meaning and the life therein, the spirit of the word, eluded me. I simply could not interpret anything I read.
Just when I was about giving up, accepting my fate and fixing another appointment for next year, this man walked up beside me and the next thing I heard was a voice asking me, "Do you understand it?"
I was jolted, because I was in the middle of a desert, seated, but dejected in my chariot. To suddenly hear a stranger's voice, therefore, shook me. I knew it wasn't my driver who spoke and not seeing any other chariot that could have brought this man near mine; my heart skipped a number of beats.
I wouldn't know how much time it took me to regain my composure, but when I finally did, instead of asking him of how he got there or telling him why he shouldn't poke his nose into other people's privacy and affair, I decided to answer his question: "Of course not! How can I when there is no one to instruct me?"
I was very sincere with my answer to this man I later learnt was called Philip. I could have pretended to know or understand the scripture. Being a Minister of Finance of an entire country, I could have decided to put up a bit of clout and tell this stranger that if I was knowledgeable enough to head the finance ministry of my nation, why shouldn't I be knowledgeable to understand a mere literature book Isaiah 53; but I was done with deceiving myself; done with playing a big man.
Philip, from his look, was obviously younger in age. I could tell from his dressing that he wasn't from a high-class family either. He was also certainly not looking as someone that could interpret the scripture you know the priests, the scribes and their associates immediately you see them. This young man had nothing to portend he was the solution to my problem, but since I was on my way to returning empty, I called him up to sit with me in the chariot, told him where I was reading and asked him to interpret God's mind to me.
Dear friend, one of the reasons you have been attending daily, weekly, monthly or yearly spiritual retreats or Church meetings and yet returning empty handed, could be because of your high-mindedness. When you are truly resolved to understand His word, do you know that He will truly send someone to you? However, your helper may be someone not in your imagined high class. Will your Professor still be willing to listen to a Junior Secondary School Student? I mean, we are not talking about Financial Management here, but understanding the Word of God, which has nothing to do with the educational proficiency of a man.
"Then Philip opened his mouth and began at the same scripture and preached unto him Jesus." Acts 8:35.
This young man dissected the scripture into pieces. When I read the same passage, I didn't see the word or the name Jesus, but I was surprised as Philip perfectly linked this passage to Jesus. Imagine, Jesus in Isaiah 53! Oh what a wonder! Could it then be that the words of the Bible may not always be what they seem to be to the eye or at the surface? Could it be that I may not always give literary interpretations to what I read from the Bible? Is the Word of God not certainly beyond English Grammar? As I watched and listened to Philip, I understood why I found it difficult understanding the Word of Life.
I've heard the key to my salvation all along with me, but because I was reading mere letters and not the spirit of the word, I couldn't connect. I had with me what could transform my life and yet I was returning empty.
Many walk about empty and in darkness, yet they have the Bible in the glove compartments of their cars, on a shelf in their homes and under their pillows.
Many have died; they finally returned home empty, yet they walked about in life, attending much Church meetings, but without touching the truth. Many of us are already returning to becoming sand again, from which we came, yet the light of the word of God is yet to lighten our feet and our path. How shall we walk in darkness and end up eternally in it when we have with us the Word of life and light?
Drawing the curtains on this story, I have men like Philip to appreciate for the divine intervention of that day. Before he was through with the breaking down of the word, I was already a changed person. I accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God and immediately, I was baptized.
Brethren, do you know that as we came out of the water, the Holy Spirit of the Lord took away Philip from me, however, I have reasons to thank God that before this happened, Philip had already deposited something great and eternal in me. He left me a changed person. I could have returned empty, but for the timely intervention of Philip.
As I recount my experience, I wonder what could have happened to me if Philip refused to leave the city of Samaria where I learnt that through him, a great revival was taking place. He could have sat with and on the spoils in Samaria, but when the Holy Spirit told him to move from the city to the desert, he obeyed without delay. Oh! Where are the faithful ones?
Had he delayed, I would have ended my journey empty and it won't be because help was not sought for me by God, but it would be that the help sought found something else more worthwhile than going to the desert to preach to a single person. Everyone wants to be a city and world-wide-known evangelist or Man of God (MOG); we all want to be in charge of a one million people congregation, but no one considers being a pastor to a soul.
Pastors fight, even diabolically and politically, to be retained in their Mega-Churches. They consider it a demotion to be transferred from the headquarter Church to a local assembly. If the worth of souls is the same before God, should there be a problem if God, the owner of the work, decides to move us from the city to the village? However, because, to us, souls in the city are of more worth than souls in the desert place; souls of the rich are worth more that souls of the poor, we resist the move of God.
Philip left behind a revival God led him to start in Samaria and headed for the desert because of a single person and after he was through with me, an Ethiopian Eunuch, he was moved again to a place called Azotus; from where he moved about preaching. Thank you!
Author's Closing Remarks: Souls need not die if only I respond promptly. Someone is about to give up and until you arrive, he may have to live perpetually in darkness. You need to save someone from worshipping God as a tradition; save Him from worshipping an unknown God and above all, do not let this Ethiopian return to his eternal home empty of Christ. God bless you! (This story is in Acts 8:26-40).
- Burning Bush Boy
Burning Bush Boy (Moses Ayodeji Solanke) is a Snr Editor with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and also a Christian Writer/Blogger - www.theburningbushboy.wordpress.com. He has great passion for enhancing the Christendom with media tools. He is married with three children. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
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