I was working finishing on a study of Acts 16 when this verse jumps out at me: “14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.”
It grabbed my attention as it imprinted upon my heart. So I wrote it down. And I’ve been meditating on it.
When you read the whole chapter, you realize that God loved Lydia enough to send His second greatest messenger Paul to speak to her. In the large city of Macedonia, God landed Paul in Lydia’s hometown of Philippi. And in that city, Paul found a group of women who regularly met to pray at the city’s riverside. Now Paul could have gone to the temple, to be with and teach and pray with the men. But Paul went to the riverside and found the faithful praying women. And instead of ignoring the women gathered there or finding another place to worship, Paul took the time to stop, fellowship with, and talk to the women.
And who was part of that group? Lydia. God guided Paul to the point where Lydia was diligently seeking God. We don’t know how long she was part of that prayer group – if she was a new believer or a seasoned follower. We don’t know what she was asking and believing for. We don’t know what Paul taught the women.
What we do know is this – God loved Lydia enough to meet her where she was – both physically at the riverside and spiritually in the prayer group – to speak to her (through Paul). And if that wasn’t enough, God loved Lydia enough to open her heart to hear His truth. God wanted to make sure that Lydia’s heart was overflowing with joy and peace. God knew that she was ready to hear Him and devote herself to Him, so He met her at that desire.
She was ready for God, and He willingly and joyfully met her right where she was. She didn’t have to wander far from home. God knew where she was, and with open arms – and His faithful servant Paul – He reached out and embraced her. And she embraced Him back.
And it’s just that simple. God wants to open your heart. God wants to embrace you. God wants to love you in a way that is impossible with man. God doesn’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve done or how damaged you are. God doesn’t care about that shame, pain, embarrassment, guilt, sadness, disappointment, and hurt that you’re dragging around.
God will meet you right where you are. And if you’ll be open-hearted to Him, as Lydia was, He will meet you in all your brokenness and help you live above and beyond it. He will help you forgive all the hurts, overcome all the pain, bring His glory to the shame, fill the sadness with joy, give purpose to the disappointment, and give beauty to the embarrassment.
It’s not impossible with God. I promise. Your story doesn’t deter Him. Your past doesn’t discourage Him. Regardless of who you’ve been and what you’ve done, He’s ready. Let Him meet you – and love you!
Marie Fremin, 7/5/15 and 7/9/15