I often have BIG plans that I want to do for the Lord. My interests are varied and I often think, "if only the Lord would give me clarity then I would know where to focus my passion." Even before getting to pray about this (for the umteenth time) the Lord reminded me of His answer - to make Christ alone my focus. I should make Him the only vision on which I've set my eyes. Contemplating that thought, I realized that Christ could do so much more (all those areas of interest, plus!) if I focused solely on Him.
I want to do something "big" for God; He wants me to allow Him to have control in the "small" things: my attitudes, reactions, body, relationships, etc. He wants me (not such a small thing.) Along the road of transformation He will use me to impact others, but He needs a surrendered, focus-on-Him partner for the work to be great!
On the day I was thinking about this I went to the wrong chapter of Acts to continue my reading. I love when the Holy Spirit gives us a detour. I read Acts 16 which tells about Timothy joining Paul & Silas on their travels. In Philippi they meet Lydia. They are in town to encourage the believers, but this possessed girl keeps annoying Paul...for days. Finally, he turns and excises the demon, but this doesn't make the town happy. Instead they see red and a mob drags them into the market to beat them and throw them into jail. (Although it isn't written, do you realize that Timothy, as a teenager, could have been beaten and jailed along with them. Maybe he escaped the mob and was safely tucked away at Lydia's, either way, he was a witness to what happened.)
At midnight "they" (more that Paul & Silas) are awake, probably because of the pain from their beating and "they" are listening to Paul and Silas pray & sing. Was this a leader's response to encourage the team or did they just need to hold on to God for themselves? No matter the motivation, they were doing the right thing - focusing on Him!
They encounter a miracle earthquake. Do we pray and expect them? Actually, they encounter two miracles: the earthquake and a whole family coming to know God. At that moment don't you think it was probably worth everything they went through to see the work of the Lord in the salvation and baptism of this family?! If you don't think a resounding, "Yes!" then I hope you'll ask the Lord to restore the joy of your salvation.
Paul, Silas and "they" hang around; they don't run off in the night. The magistrates want to send them away quietly, but Paul confidently, actually defiantly, sends a message back that they made a big mistake by beating and imprisoning Roman citizens. They are asked to leave town, begged it says, but first Paul and Silas go to Lydia's to encourage the believers. Then they are on their way.
Why was this chapter so compelling this week? We've all heard the story so many times! I was blown away by how Paul and Silas focused on God despite their circumstances. This is the way to live IN the world, but not OF it!
Just remember, make Christ your sole focus and He will make something out of you.