Nothing is so infectious as example.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Do you have role models in your life? People you look up to? People whose lives, work, attitude or actions encourage and challenge you to believe more fully and to live and love God and others more freely?
One precious role model in my life of late is a woman I've come to really look up to. A gal who lived in the early days of the first century church. A gal named Lydia.
I knew she was a kindred spirit right off the bat when I "happened upon" her in Acts 16:13 sitting with friends along the river's edge in quiet prayer, contemplation and worship. Lydia's love for God drew her away from the maddening crowds, the crowds that swarmed the ancient temples of the gods of her day, to a place where God's fingerprints in creation could be seen, His presence felt and the whisper of His voice heard.
That is certainly where I would've been found had I lived in that day. For I am what Gary Thomas in his book, Sacred Pathways, calls a Naturalist. But, Lydia and I are not the only ones who meet God best in creation. Gary reminds me that, "God met Hagar in the desert, Abraham on a mountain, Jacob at a river crossing, and Moses in a burning bush." Even Jesus spent a good deal of time praying and teaching outdoors. "Who is to say that birds weren't flying overhead when he spoke of God's care for them? Or that he wasn't pointing to real flowers when He talked of their beauty?"1
There in that lovely place of stillness God had Lydia's rapt attention. No wonder her heart broke wide open when Paul and his entourage sat down to share the story of God's sweet gift of love, the gift of His Son and salvation, with her that day!
Her heart had been prepared for his message. And without hesitation, it says in Acts 16:15, that she and her household met Paul back at water's edge and were baptized as a symbol of their belief and gratitude to God for His incredible love.
But, that's not all...
God's love so filled every nook and cranny of Lydia's life that day―it overflowed in hospitality back on to those very men whom God had sent to share His Good News.
Before they knew what was happening, those itinerant preachers were being housed, fed, and lovingly cared for by Lydia...for the entire duration of their stay in the city of Philippi. Imagine that! A home full of strangers. Think of the grocery bills! The laundry piles! The tight living quarters!
It is precisely that love and hospitality that Lydia showed to Paul and his friends that has been such a beautiful example to me when I grow weary of well-doing. Because, you see, for the past eight months my little house has been filled with houseguests too.
Late last fall I had my dear friend move in for two months while recovering from surgery. Then the week of Thanksgiving, my sweet niece and her mini schnauzer, Margot, also came to stay. Mel moved out in December. Tina and Margot will move out the first of June.
And every time I've wanted to complain about our tight living quarters, I think of Lydia. I think of her example. Her heart for God. Her time spent in quiet prayer, contemplation and worship that prepared her heart for the things to come. I think of a life overflowing with grace, joy and hospitality because of the grace and love that had been given to her in her Savior. And it encourages me to follow in her footsteps.
Thank you sweetest Savior for the beautiful examples of women like Lydia, both those here and now and those from times past, that serve to remind me how to walk with You!
Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer.
Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.
1st Peter 4:9
1Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul's Path to God. Copyright 1996 by Gary Thomas. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530.