Nothing Else Matters
By Evie Kalvelage of Independence, MO, USA
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover them with favor as with a shield. —Psalm 5:3, 11-12 NRSV
Early one morning, I sat down to read the assigned reading for my study group, but I felt like I was not going deep enough. Even reading it several times brought no understanding. I moved on to the exercises, feeling removed from God—unable to understand what God wanted me to learn.
The exercises asked me to read the story of Philip from Acts 8:26–39 several times. An angel of the Lord told Philip to go to the road that runs from Jerusalem through the Gaza Desert. He was to arrive at noon. Philip did as he was told, no questions.
When Philip arrived, he saw “the Treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, the queen” returning from Jerusalem after worshipping at the temple. The eunuch was seated in his chariot, reading aloud a passage in Isaiah. The Holy Spirit told Philip to go over to the chariot, and he obeyed. He asked the man if he understood what he was reading. The eunuch replied that he didn’t because he had no teacher. He begged Philip to sit with him and help him understand.
Philip taught the man about Jesus. The scripture doesn’t tell us how long the two were together, but that time must have been intense. Philip’s words fell on a welcoming heart. As they passed a small body of water, the man asked Philip if he would baptize him.
Philip answered, “Yes, if you believe with your whole heart.”
The eunuch said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
They went down into the water, and Philip baptized the eunuch. As they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord whisked Philip away, and the eunuch never saw him again. The scripture tells us the man went on his way rejoicing.
The next exercise asked me to rewrite that story in first person. I hesitated, thinking that was a bit much to ask for a 30-minute study period, but the idea intrigued me. Rereading the passage and writing about it overwhelmed me with a blessing. For a long time I have felt lonely for Christ—not forsaken, but unable to feel his spirit in the way I wanted. I read my devotions and said my prayers, but I was only moving my lips. I felt like the eunuch who left his worship in the temple frustrated and not understanding.
Then God sent him a blessing in Philip as he sent me a blessing in this story. A sense of knowing that Jesus is my Lord overpowered me and filled me with the Holy Spirit. All I could do was weep. I am humbled by the intensity and the suddenness with which my empty heart filled. It was a moment when nothing else mattered.
Prayer for Peace
Faithful God, we commit to act for justice and peace, trusting your Spirit will be with us.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, our call is to respond to people and their needs. Pray about using your skills to help the mission of the community. As you feel affirmed, thank God for the opportunity to be a responding, committed, disciple while you move into the outward journey.
Today, God, I will not hesitate, but will act on your promptings.