Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Whoosh! Storying through Acts Week 5: Directed

Last week Dennis & I were at Baylor University for four days.  Dennis was the Hearn Innovator guest lecturer for the Center for Christian Music Studies  at Baylor  It was powerful to watch him teach and coach these students who are preparing to be worship pastors and worship leaders in the local church.  That is his wheelhouse!  Did you know that before he changed his major to music, Dennis was planning to be a coach?  He still is a coach, coming alongside our musicians every week, those who serve and those who lead, bringing out their strengths, encouraging them, challenging them to be better and think bigger and serve with humility.  He is great at helping people understand why we worship and how we worship well, why we worship the way we do.  I watched him in lectures and over dinner conversations, and his days were filled with one-on-one mentoring sessions, where he thrives.  He is a coach at heart.  And though he poured himself out from sun up to way past sun down, he came away fired up, because he is passionate about worship and worship leaders.

I met Dennis Worley in the halls of those buildings where he taught this week.  It was powerful to be back on the campus.  While he taught, I had the days to myself.  I walked the whole campus, went inside every building, stood in concert halls and practice rooms and theaters and classrooms and dormitories, at intersections, by benches, under trees that transported me back to the 1970's, to my twenty-something self who dreamed of doing some of the things I've gotten to do and didn't even know to dream of doing some of the things I've gotten to do.  I was passionate about Jesus and music and boys —not always in that order!  I was just beginning to discover who I was and what God had in mind for me.  Walking those hallways and watching Dennis talk with those students, I was reminded of the many people who spoke into my life and dreams during those years.  I found myself making a list of the people God has brought alongside me since then, all along the way in life—people who have been able to help me see what God was doing and how I fit in it, people who called out my gifts and strengths and people who called me on my weaknesses.  I am grateful for them, so grateful that God lined them up next to me at moments in life.  If I made a list you would know some and you wouldn't have a clue about others.  My story would not be the same without them.

I was thinking about them this past week, not only because I was at Baylor, but because I was preparing to teach this week's Wednesday Bible study.  This week's story is one of my all-time favorites.

God told Philip, "Go down the road south of Jerusalem," and Philip obeyed.  He came upon a man riding in a chariot, an Ethiopian eunuch, a high official in the Queen's court.  He had been to Jerusalem to worship God, and he was reading from the scroll of Isaiah!
Acts 8:26-38

God's Spirit told Philip, "Go alongside that chariot and stay near it."

As Philip approached the chariot, he heard the man reading aloud.

"Do you understand what you're reading?" Philip asked.  

"How can I," the man replied, "unless someone explains it to me?  Can you explain it to me?"
Acts 8:30-31

So Philip climbed into the chariot, and starting with the passage in Isaiah, with story after story, he told the man about Jesus—how it was possible for everyone to have life with God because of Jesus.

I love this story because it is such a beautiful example of how God's Spirit lines us up next to someone right at the moment they need to understand something about God or how life with God works.  Both Philip and the Ethiopian learn something about God they didn't know, didn't understand fully until their paths lined up on this stretch of road.  They both learned that life with God, a relationship with God, is open to everyone because of Jesus.  I've been in Philip's shoes a time or two, so I know that sometimes you don't even understand a truth about God is true until you teach it to someone, and just as you're explaining it to them — ZING!—a lightbulb goes off in your heart, and you go, "Wow!  That's true!"

This is exactly what Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be, a coach.  Paraclete is the word used in the Bible, meaning someone who comes alongside and helps you.

I'm so grateful for the paracletes that came alongside me at moments in my life and said, "Do you understand what God is doing?"  But I also know that God is constantly telling me, "Go here" or "Go there," and mistakenly I often think it is all about my path, when actually he is lining me up next to someone else on the path, and it is my moment to say, "Do you understand?"  And when they ask, "Can you explain it to me?" then, like Philip, I need to be ready to tell them the story and how they fit in it.  Are you ready?

Click here to listen to this week's story and download the Bible study.

Who will you tell this story to?

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