Our lives are made up of moments. Some moments have no real impact on the greater narrative of our lives; buying a new dress, our drive to work, an advert we see on TV, a midnight duel with a pesky mosquito or dinner with a friend. These moments can make for great memories, but our story isn’t dramatically changed because of them.
Then you get moments that are life altering. Where an event crashes into the narrative of our lives leaving our story never the same again. When I look back on my life, I can recall a few of these moments:
- The moment I changed High Schools.
- My Parent’s divorce.
- Enrolling to study at University.
- The night I put my faith in Jesus.
- A break up.
- A decision to intern at my Church.
- Meeting my wife
- The death of my wife’s mom.
Some of those days were filled with laughter and fond memories, others were filled with deep sadness and shock, but these events all drastically changed the trajectory of my life by thrusting me into the plans and purposes that God has for me.
The first Christians had many of these life-altering moments. One of which, we read about today in Acts 8.
Up until this point, Jesus said that his followers would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them and that they would be witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Those words came rushing to life as the early Church was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and they were turning Jerusalem upside-down. They were preaching the Gospel, healing the sick, casting out demons and seeing many people transformed by the good news of Jesus. They were on a roll! They were unstoppable!
Then, their friend Stephen is murdered for his faith…
Shock, horror, a deep pit in the stomachs of those that watched. Blood spattering. Shouting. Rocks crushing bone. Angry men. A final exhale. Their brother was dead.
The Church was never the same.
“What now? I thought God was for us? I thought we were unstoppable? I thought this would be easy? Do we pack up and go home? Do we carry on doing what Jesus said?”
Maybe you can relate to this. You have faced or are in a life-changing moment:
- A break up.
- A car accident.
We have a choice to make. Do we lie down, or get up? Do we back down or trust Jesus and take another step?
I would think that Stephen’s death would make for an understandable end to the story of the Church.
Jesus said that they would spread to Judea, Samaria and the Ends of the earth. Stephen’s death was a tragedy that God used to thrust His people into the trajectory of His plans and purposes.
4 Although the believers were scattered by persecution, they preached the wonderful news of the word of God wherever they went. 5 Philip travelled to a Samaritan city and preached to them the wonderful news of the Anointed One. 6 The crowds were eager to receive Philip’s message and were persuaded by the many miracles and wonders he performed. 7 Many demon-possessed people were set free and delivered as evil spirits came out of them with loud screams and shrieks, and many who were lame and paralysed were also healed. 8 This resulted in an uncontainable joy filling the city!
Philip, along with others, decided to press into Jesus and press on with God’s plan and purpose for their lives!
When we face life-changing moments that hit us seemingly out of nowhere, we choose to get up and walk into what God has called us to do. Why? Because Jesus has a plan. I might be shocked, but He is not. I may not understand, but His ways and thoughts are higher than my own. What I do know, is that He loves me and is working a plan together that will reach way beyond me.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28
I do not know where I would be without the life changing moments that I experienced. I don’t think I would have been a husband, leader or a devoted Christ-follower. I have had the privilege of leading many people to Jesus. God used life-changing moments to get me to people that are desperate for the good news of Jesus. There is NO GREATER JOY than leading someone to the healer – Jesus.
I do not know what you have been through, but Jesus does. There is healing in His hands.
It is not over.
Take another step.
Run into the plans and purposes God has for you.
Share the good news of Jesus.
Uncontainable joy is ready to be released in your city.
God, you know what I have been through. You know the joy, the laughter and fond memories, and you know the deep sorrow I have faced. Thank you that your heart is for me through it all. Help me to believe that you love me and that you are working something together for me that is bigger than myself. IT IS NOT OVER! Fill me with your Holy Spirit, God. Empower me to take another step. I want to run into the plans and purposes that you have for me. When I look back on this event in my life, I know that my mouth with burst with praise because of the story you have written. I pray that the Gospel would result in an uncontainable Joy to fill me and this city.
I trust you, Jesus.