Scripture states that God does not sleep (Psalm 121:3) but yet there are times when it seems as though God has dozed off. Those are the times when nothing “spectacular” transpires and any and all activity seems mundane. I contend that in those seemingly mundane times God is “setting the stage” for a wonderful drama to unfold. Such was the case for a woman named Lydia.
According to Acts 16:14, Lydia was a seller of purple, originally from the city of Thyatira in Asia Minor. She had moved to Philippi, a Roman colony and a chief city in Macedonia. It was there that her business was operating, if not flourishing. Apparently, Lydia was of Jewish descent, or at least, a Jewish proselyte. While Lydia was genuine in her practice of her religion, its practice had some great limitations. First, there was not a synagogue in Philippi for apparently there were simply not enough Jews to warrant one. Second, there were not enough Jewish men to propagate the Jewish faith in that their law required the presence of ten men in order for the Torah to be read. Third, first-century Judaism was incapable of providing salvation for it had rejected Jesus Christ. Consequently, we see Lydia and other women gathering together for prayer by a river on the Sabbaths, but that is all that could be accomplished… or so they thought.
While this was going on, about one hundred and fifty miles away, the Apostle Paul was seeking where he might go and preach the gospel. By means of a vision, Paul saw a man in Macedonia inviting him to come there. Realizing this to be the will of God, Paul took off and got there as quickly as possible. When he arrived in Philippi, apparently absolutely nothing happened for a few days. But then came the Sabbath and off to the river he goes. It is there that he meets Lydia, preaches the gospel to her, and she comes to faith in Jesus Christ. That’s spectacular! But I contend that it would not have occurred had not a number of mundane events had first transpired.
As noted above, Lydia was originally from Thyatira. In order for her to be at the place where Paul would come, God had to move her. I believe that God providentially worked in her business affairs to get her to move. Maybe things were going well in Thyatira that she could branch out, or maybe business was bad that she had to find a more lucrative place to sell her goods. Whatever the case, she moved and was in the place where she would hear the gospel. At the same time, Paul wanted to go into Asia Minor to preach, but God providentially kept him from doing so (Acts 16:6) and moved him to Philippi.
Before Paul arrived in Philippi, some might believe that nothing was preparing Lydia to believe what Paul would soon preach. But God was at work in the mundane. I contend that God was preparing Lydia’s heart by three means. First, there was the witness of creation. Psalm 19:1 states that the heavens declare the glory of God. Every day Lydia was confronted by a creative witness of God’s existence and His magnificent glory. Second, there was the witness of conscience. God has created man with a conscience that testifies to him of the righteousness or unrighteousness of any action (Romans 2:15). Consequently, Lydia knew of God’s glory and how she had fallen short of it. What could she do? I suggest that there is a good possibility that this was the question she was seeking an answer to in their prayer meetings.
Finally, there was the witness of circumstances. God had set the stage by getting her to Philippi and now bringing a messenger of the gospel to her. Coincidence? No, God was doing a spectacular work in the mundane circumstances of life.
There may be times, wait, there are times when “nothing seems to be happening” in your life. You begin to wonder if God is taking a nap. He’s not! He’s just setting the stage for a wonderful drama to unfold. Remain faithful when nothing seems to be happening. God is working!