Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews. However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. The power of the Lord was with them and a large number of Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.
This passage has a few notices. The first and most talked about is that difficult times and stresses can bring about the release of the gospel to the world. There is something about stepping through hard times that make men and women of God warriors for the faith. Praise God for not wasting what the enemy of our souls meant for harm. Please keep that in mind when you feel like the country is stepping away from its apathy toward Christians into a serious distaste.
Another notice for me was the anonymity of these warriors. These are the you’s and me’s of history. Put yourself in that place. These men and women, many with families, were trying to get to safety. These are not the ‘super apostles’, but people like us. Nameless in the history book, looking to live their faith on the run. So what do they do? They listen to the Spirit’s prompting and step into an area that has never been breached before in Hebrew history. They step away from prejudice and ‘how things are done’ to reach people for Christ. In their running from danger, they still were listening to the voice of God. Not only did they listen, but they took that first step of courage and then the next step. As a result countless people were added to the kingdom. As a result we are here praising God and hoping to leave a legacy of faith to our own communities. Which of the unnamed will I be thanking in heaven for their steps? Which will it be for you?
That brings up questions for me. How do I know the voice of God? How do I know when to step up and speak and when to keep silent? How far am I willing to go listening to this voice?
I was listening to a podcast and something was said about using your left hand fingers to say’ The Lord is my shepherd’, one word per finger. That ring finger is the word my, that’s where my wedding band sits. God is my shepherd means I’m in covenant with him, much like a marriage. What does a good marriage look like? Spending time with your partner enough to know their voice well. I can spot my husband’s voice across crowded spaces. I can tell if he is playful or frustrated. How? Time and relationship. It then becomes my choice. Do I look to follow his lead or live my own direction? Do I take the time to find out what pleases him or am I just wanting him to please me? Do I trust him enough to look out for my good? This is not far off from how we hear from our God. It takes time to develop an ear for his voice, just like any relationship. And when we do hear his leading, do we trust him enough to take that first step of courage?
These unnamed believers took that step. God knows their names. He has written them in the Lambs book of life. Your name, if you are a believer in the work of Jesus, is written there too. That faith lineage can continue with you. Who will you touch in this world as you listen to your Father’s voice? Whether it is one person or many, you are now in the company of those who traveled this path before us. You are now in the company of the named apostles and the thousands of unnamed warriors.