Linking up today with It Just Takes One (http://onegirl-itjusttakesone.blogspot.com/) for her Chasing History series. We’re learning about the women of the Bible and how their stories can impact OUR stories.
There is no way that the Bible can include the names and stories of all those early believers who chose to follow Jesus and had an impact on their world. The book would be enormous! But I find myself fascinated by those whose names were mentioned in passing, because we all know that God doesn’t do anything by accident. What can we learn from these people who merited a mention in God’s Word?
When I thought about writing a post for this link up, Lydia is not the woman of the Bible I was considering. I just happened across her name while I was turning pages, and when I stopped to read her brief story, I immediately felt a kinship with her because we seem to share the spiritual gift of hospitality.
In Acts 16, we meet Lydia as she’s part of a group of women gathered on the Sabbath near the river. Luke says that they expected to find a place of prayer there, so maybe the ladies were having a prayer meeting. Paul began to speak to the gathering. Here’s how Luke describes Lydia:
“One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” Acts 16:14
Purple dye was expensive in those days, so if Lydia is a merchant selling purple cloth it’s safe to assume that she is not a poor beggar woman. Most likely she had enough money to get whatever material goods she desired. She’s also not from this town, because Luke tells us she’s from Thyatira. Lydia was already a worshiper of God, but God opened her heart to hear Paul preach the gospel. (Can I interject here that I think it would be simply marvelous to be known as a “worshiper of God”? ) Despite all her worldly wealth, Lydia knew there was something missing, and maybe that’s what drew her to the river that day.
My church’s mission statement is that we are to be “missionaries where we live, work and play”. It sounds like Lydia would be right at home in my church because the next thing she does after she hears the Truth preached by Paul is go home and convert the members of her household.
“When she and the members of her household were baptized” v. 15
I think that’s what all God-fearing mothers want – to see the conversion of their households. I know I do. I have seen two of my three children choose to follow Christ and be baptized, and the youngest one is asking some questions that lead me to believe she’s on the way.
It’s the next thing that Lydia does that really makes me feel like we would be friends. She invited Paul and his companions to come stay at her house. Not come for dinner or coffee, an event with a defined ending. To stay. Have you ever done that – invited people you didn’t know well to come stay or live at your house? Or even people you DO know well?
A few years ago my husband and I welcomed into our home a friend who was going through a rough time. He and I share the gift of hospitality so to us it was a no-brainer. She’s in trouble and needs a place to stay? She should come stay with us! And so she did, for four months, along with her three children. So many people would tell us that they could not imagine taking someone into their home like that, and what good people we were to do it, etc., but we didn’t do it to show how “good” we were. We did it because we couldn’t imagine NOT doing it, and I’m not saying it that to brag. It was fun being together and it was very difficult sometimes, but if I could go back I wouldn’t do any differently. The way my husband and I see it, God gave us this home and we want to use it for His glory. With her three kids and our three (at the time), it would have been easy to get sucked into worrying about the damage that was being done to the walls, carpets, etc, but a house is just a building. It’s walls and floors and a ceiling, and all that can be repaired if necessary. People and relationships and what goes on inside the walls are far more important than the structure.
The next part of this chapter describes Paul and Silas being thrown into prison. (and includes one of my favorite verses, Acts 16:25) Finally, in verse 40, there is another mention of Lydia:
“After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.”
When they’re released from prison, where do Paul and Silas go? They go to Lydia’s house, where they felt welcomed and safe, like home base. They took the time to encourage their fellow believers before moving on to spread the gospel into Thessalonica.
Lydia may not be as well known as some other women in the Bible, but there are no bit players in God’s kingdom. We all have a part to play and all those parts fit together like pieces of a puzzle. We may not think our invitation to have a friend over for coffee matters much, but maybe it means the world to that friend. And maybe seeing that you take the time to welcome in a friend will encourage someone else to do the same.