April 22, 2019
In this week’s Illuminate, the first half of the study focuses on the calling of Barnabas and Saul in Acts 13, verse 2: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” So after they had finished praying, in verse 3, “They laid their hands on them and sent them off.” In verse 4, Barnabas and Saul “went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”
Notice how fast the narrative moves. The Holy Spirit speaks during worship, and the next thing you know – just two sentences later – Barnabas and Saul are on a boat.
It makes me curious. Did the Holy Spirit speak through a single person, or did they sense the leading of the Spirit inwardly and simultaneously? Was there any resistance to the message that doesn’t get recorded here, or was it obvious to everyone present that this was the way forward? If they weren’t initially clear, how did they reach clarity? And unity?
These are questions I struggle with in the work to which God has called me at Barclay Press, and I think these are also questions for us in our families and in our faith communities. Are we joining with others to listen together for the leading of the Spirit? Do our convictions come out of “worshiping the Lord and fasting” (13:2) or “fasting and praying” (13:3), and what does that mean or how does that happen in our contexts? If we experience a clear call to go, are we willing to go even if our current work is unfinished?
These are questions I’m going to be sitting with this week. In the meantime, here are some relevant words from Margaret Fell that further challenge and encourage me (and that I hope might be helpful for you):
“Am I present with thee, and have communion with thee, my dear heart whom the Lord hath chosen out of the world and separated thee out from the world, for his own work and service, to communicate to others what thou hast received from him the fountain of infinite and eternal life, that others may partake of the same with you, the Lord God of power is arising and the glory of his majesty, and the living fountain of life is opening, the streams of his everlasting love is coming forth, into the hearts of his people, and he is raising up his own seed, that it may serve him in the land of the living, and now he is bringing to pass and fulfilling his many and great promises in the day of the deliverance of Zion.”
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