Out of the Glory, into the Desert
The piercing scream that shot out of the young mother’s lips, standing in the crowd of seekers with her crippled child, caught Philip so off guard that he jumped back, as if someone had poked him with a stick.
“I can’t believe this is happening to me,” he blurted out as he turned to search for the source of all the commotion. After all, he thought, as he quickly looked about, it’s only been a few weeks since I was just one of the boys “waiting tables” for the saints in Jerusalem. Then Steven was martyred for preaching Jesus, so we all hit the road to get away from his murderers, and here I am in Samaria.
So many of the Samaritans were pressed around young Philip that he scarcely could see past more than three or four people into the crowd, but the yelling and rejoicing was getting louder, so he knew he was looking in the right direction.
Suddenly, what must have been the most excited woman in all of Samaria, was standing in front of him, or should I say, jumping up and down in front of him, and she was filled with such joy. And, running circles around the edge of her skirt was a little eight year old girl, and between the two of them, through all their tears and laughter, Philip figured out that the little girl had been healed of a crippling disease.
Philip stopped again and looked around in amazement. It seemed like the entire city of Samaria was in the streets, rejoicing over what God, through the power and love of Jesus, was doing among them. And all he had done was “preach the Word” just like he had seen Peter and John do so often; then the miracles of healing started.
So lifting his head back, in the midst of this glorious moment, with the crowds of joyous people pressing in, this young servant of the Lord shouted, “Hallelujah!” and the sound of it echoed through the narrow streets mingling with the multitude of others praising and glorifying God.
“Could it be any better,” he said aloud as he moved on through the crowd of hungry seekers, praying for their needs as he went.
When Philip came to the edge of the city where the crowd of people had thinned out, he paused for a moment, before turning back into the city to continue his ministry, when he saw a man coming toward him through the crowd.
An odd feeling came over the young preacher even before the deep blue penetrating eyes of the stranger fastened on him. Philip couldn’t tell you how he knew, but he knew, even before he spoke that he was an angel from the Lord.
“Go toward the south about midday on the road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
Then before the words the angel spoke even sank into Philip’s mind, he turned and disappeared into the crowd and was gone.
As the angel slipped out of sight it suddenly dawned on Philip what he had said.
“Wait a minute,” he yelled after him, “The southern route, that’s the one through the desert; there’s nothing out there but lizards and cactus.”
Then Philip was confused, and because he was young in the ways of the Holy Spirit guidance, it didn’t make sense for him to leave this oasis of glory where he was doing so much good for God and his kingdom, and walk off into the desert alone.
“How could this bless anybody? After all it seems like these people here in Samaria needed a good pastor; maybe I should stay here where the hot spot is,” he muttered to himself as he wandered off toward the southern exit of the city.
How strange it is when God is about ready to do a new thing in our spirit development. He never seems to give us the entire picture, but leaves enough of it out so that we must trust Him and know that He is faithful and has something better than we could have dreamed. How foolish to the natural mind it would seem to leave a great revival where the whole city is full of joy and walk off into the desert alone with no promise of meeting a soul.
But, “that life in the Faith Lane”, taking the first step without the answers lined up yet, is natural for those who walk in the spirit and believe in the life of faith.
Releasing your tithes and offerings to God with no promise in the natural of another pay check is tantamount of walking off into the desert without a clue of what lies ahead.
That is where the “rubber hits the road” in this faith business, being able to let go of that which you have in your hand even before you feel, see, or handle that which God has promised you.
Oh how odd it is to the natural mind, that much of what God gives us and what we accomplish in the kingdom is always on the other side or in the middle of some kind of desert or dry spot in our walk.
Abraham left the comfort of his family to follow God. Moses left the power and wealth of the courts of Pharaoh to take his desert journey, and Jesus left all His royal vestige in heaven, and walked through the “desert of humanity” to redeem us back to God.
Thank God for those desert experiences in our lives. For it was there that the children of Israel learned the faithfulness of God; it was there that David wrote his greatest Psalms; it was there that Jesus won victory over temptation and the enemy’s tricks, and it was there that Philip met the Ethiopian who took the message of Christ into the regions of northern Africa. And from there Philip experienced his first translation by the Holy Spirit of God.
Remember this, fellow travelers, that the thing you give up to follow God’s promptings is never as wonderful as what you will receive when you are obedient to His will, and secondly, all the good fruit is either on the end of the limb or on the other side of the desert.
Keep going, your ride is waiting just around the corner…
– Pastor George Watkins
In Charge of Desert Equipment