Have you ever had a dream that pointed you in the right direction toward something that had been eluding you? It is said that during our sleep, the subconscious processes events of the day and attempts to untangle them. Perhaps that is the goal of that persistent dream we all have where we are taking a final for a class we never attended. Our brains are still trying to deal with decades of test anxiety. In my persistent dream, I am late and I can’t find my way to church on Sunday morning and sometimes I can’t find my shoes. Last night I had this dream with an interesting and horrifying twist … I couldn’t find a cup of coffee. I was lost on a boardwalk of some kind, trying to find my way to the theater where we were holding the church service. I saw myself in a mirror and realized that I had no make-up on, and very mean people refused to help me. Worst of all, someone offered me a cup of coffee that turned out to be salsa with cilantro. Kid you not. It was a nightmare.
Today’s Scripture comes from the book of Acts and describes a fantastic voyage that begins with a dream. In this case, the dream points Paul’s gang toward a new adventure:
Acts 16 (The Message)
9-10 That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over to Macedonia. All the pieces had come together. We knew now for sure that God had called us to preach the good news to the Europeans.
Peterson has a way with words, and the image of the dream giving Paul a map is lovely. It makes one wonder if daydreams accomplish the same thing. It is often in these moments of musing that we relax enough to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us toward some God-objective that we have been resisting. It is also a good reminder that God is constantly trying to order our steps toward a goal that he has set out for us to achieve.
11-12 Putting out from the harbor at Troas, we made a straight run for Samothrace. The next day we tied up at New City and walked from there to Philippi, the main city in that part of Macedonia and, even more importantly, a Roman colony. We lingered there several days.
Let’s talk about the geography of this adventure. I just spent 22 hours in four airplanes coming home from a trip, so I am more than a little intrigued with Paul’s travel. Think of it! It boggles the mind. This part of Paul’s journey is considered to be his second missionary journey, which took him from Asia to Europe for the first time. During this trip he visited the major cities of modern-day Greece, covering hundreds of miles by ship and on foot. Here is a good article and map that shows this journey in purple.
How far would YOU go to deliver the good news of the gospel?
Paul’s journey continues. We will simply read the rest of this passage for now, but we’ll come back next week for the “rest of the story,” where we will talk more in depth about Lydia and what she symbolizes.
13-14 On the Sabbath, we left the city and went down along the river where we had heard there was to be a prayer meeting. We took our place with the women who had gathered there and talked with them. One woman, Lydia, was from Thyatira and a dealer in expensive textiles, known to be a God-fearing woman. As she listened with intensity to what was being said, the Master gave her a trusting heart—and she believed!
15 After she was baptized, along with everyone in her household, she said in a surge of hospitality, “If you’re confident that I’m in this with you and believe in the Master truly, come home with me and be my guests.” We hesitated, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Is God showing you a map of some kind? Do your dreams nudge you in a direction that is more in line with God’s will than your present trajectory? Are you resisting a change of course? Where are you going with your life? Paul’s example is to follow God’s map wherever it may lead us.
May God give you fair winds and following seas as you pursue his dream for your life.