My heart’s been moved again by the story of Philip and the Ethiopian as found in Acts 8:26-40. This encounter unfolds like a series of rapid succession snapshots, sort of like living a narrative through the lens of a view-finder. Remember those? Philip’s story is a faith-stepping one; it has a lot to teach us about the seasonal work of faith in our lives. Imagine with me for a few moments. Perhaps, like me, you’ll find yourself somewhere in the script.
Philip steps forward. “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. So he started out, …”. (vs. 26-27)
A life of faith is initiated and directed by the hand of God. A saint steps forward (even to a desert road) when God shouts “Go!”.
Philip steps near. “The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’ Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked.” (vs. 29-30)
A life of faith is often lived out alongside the questioning soul. A saint steps near the questions and isn’t intimidated by the pace of the chariot.
Philip steps up. “‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” (vs. 31)
A life of faith rises to the occasion. A saint steps up into the chariot to tell the truth . . . to give a reason for the hope residing within.
Philip steps down. “As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.” (vs. 26-38)
A life of faith understands that life truly begins in the baptismal waters of grace. A saint steps down into the river to pour life into others, even it means getting wet in the process. With God, a little wetness is all the more and then some. How long has it been since you’ve stepped down into those waters of grace?
Philip steps out. “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on rejoicing.” (vs. 39)
A life of faith is characterized by seasons. A saint steps out of the scene when God shouts, “Go!”. Some faith-assignments are lengthier than others, but most always they are limited to a time-period. Wise are those who know when to linger and when to step out of the scene.
Philip steps on. “Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.” (vs. 40)
A life of faith keeps moving forward beyond the “stretches and strengthenings” of the soul. A saint steps on to walk the path and do the work of kingdom building. Faith doesn’t end where the last baptism took place. Faith journeys forward to new waters and new chariots in order to dispense the familiar grace from an old, rugged cross.
Thus, faith . . .
- Steps forward.
- Steps near.
- Steps up.
- Steps down.
- Steps out.
- Steps on.
Where are you stepping today, friends?
Step always in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. This road is coming to an end and one day soon, our faith will be our eyes. Until then, keep stepping. As always . . .
Peace for the journey,