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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Acts 16:6–10             

They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. (NRSV)

I admit I struggled with this passage, trying to think of a current life situation as an example. The experiences that came to mind didn’t seem to stand up to the power of Paul’s story of going out and preaching the Holy Spirit. But we all have had moments in our lives where certain decisions seemed to be of paramount importance—at least at that point in time.

When I was teaching high school I recall a student who dreamed of attending an Eastern college and applied to several prestigious institutions on the East Coast. She was from the Midwest—home of many fine universities and colleges, but she felt compelled to move literally and emotionally in a different direction. One day I received a call that she was in her room devastated and sobbing because she had received three “ding” letters, or rejection, letters in the mail from those colleges. I went to her room, where she was lying on her bed, her face streaked with tears. She gave me the letters to read. As I recall they were all pleasantly worded and one, in fact, still offered some possibility of acceptance at a later date. But she felt confused and without direction. Yet, there was one more school where she applied—at the behest of others—located here in the Midwest. Not long after this discouraging day, a letter of acceptance came in the mail from this school—a top university—inviting her to join the incoming freshman class. She accepted that invitation.

Although this was not the direction she thought was right for her, in the end it was the right direction.

Dear Lord, we thank you for caring about us, and we want to do your will, but sometimes we lose our direction. Please guide us and send us signs of your plan for us. Amen.

Written by Ann Murray, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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