Season of Joy
Today's Season of Joy reflection on Acts 16:11-15 is by ValLimar Jansen.
ValLimar was a university professor, who by popular demand became a national speaker, a composer, and recording artist. For over 25 years, she has served as a keynote speaker, workshop presenter, catechist, and evangelizer. ValLimar developed a signature blend of dramatic art, music, Scripture proclamation, prayer and inspirational exhortation.
Rest in God's Divine Design
from Acts 16:11-15
On the sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river
where we thought there would be a place of prayer.
We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there.
One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth,
from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened,
and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention
to what Paul was saying.
To read the full scripture passage, please visit: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/
At one point in our marriage, my husband Frank and I were devout campers. We were also Co-directors of Music and Liturgy. We were camping at Lake Arrowhead, and we found out there was a Roman Catholic parish near the campgrounds.
We arrived at the church and took a seat in the pew, enjoying how the wall behind the altar was completely made of glass, and the beautiful pine forest, and the exquisite artwork. As soon as we sat down, an announcement was made that the parish musician could not make it and there would be no music at Mass.
Frank and I gave each other a look and with very few words between us, we approached the pastor in the sacristy and told him we were Roman Catholic music directors on vacation, and we would be happy to lead music for Mass. After a few questions, the pastor was willing to trust God and to trust us to lead the music for Mass.
That day we knew God had a special plan for us and for the pastor and the parishioners of Our Lady of the Lake. We were honored and thrilled to be included in God’s divine design.
Have you ever been in the right place at the exact “right time” and you knew you were doing your part to help fulfill God’s special plan? I believe God has a divine design, a plan for each of our lives.
Yes, we have free will. Life is a collection of millions of choices in word and deed. We must trust God to prepare our way, to guide us along life’s path, and to equip us with all we need.
In this reading, what was usually a five-day journey by boat, took Paul and his crew only two days! Favorable winds, smooth, cooperative seas… it was as though God truly paved the way for them.
As the story unfolds, we see that God had already prepared the hearts of the people who met at the river to be open to hear Paul’s message.
Now Lydia enters the story. Lydia, who was from Thyatira and not Philippi, listened to Paul’s message of Jesus Christ and she believed. After hearing Paul preach, she led her entire household to be baptized.
So Lydia today would be what we call an Influencer. We are told she had a business selling purple cloth—an important detail.
In Lydia’s day, wearing purple was primarily for royalty. Purple dye was very expensive to create. This fact and knowing Lydia was in Philippi on a business trip, and she had the means to provide lodging for Paul and his entourage, suggests she was a successful businesswoman.
Because of God’s divine design, Paul was led to someone who could be of tremendous assistance to him, and who had the wealth and social influence to spread the message of Jesus Christ well beyond the river and the region of Philippi. Lydia was in the right place at the right time to hear the message of Jesus, to believe, and to be baptized.
God gave Paul smooth sailing, prepared the hearts of the people, and guided Paul to Lydia and the people at the river. Through Lydia, Paul was supplied lodging and perhaps equipped with resources and a network to spread the Gospel of Jesus to a broader reach! God prepares our way, guides us and equips us with all we need.
So keep working in God’s vineyard, and keep inviting others to come and labor in the harvest. When weary, rest in Jesus, the True Vine, and share your burdens with the other branches who are connected in the True Vine.
Dear God, may we remember that you answer our prayers by leading and guiding us. You nourish, nurture, and grow us.
You are Creator, Master Planner, Divine Designer of the vineyard.
Help us remember that just as you had a plan for Paul, his team of disciples, the people at the river, and for Lydia and her household, you, loving God, have a plan for every branch that remains in the True Vine. Amen.
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