I would loved to have seen the look on Philip’s face.
First, an angel appears and tells him to head in a particular direction. Next thing you know, on foot, he is chasing down a chariot. In that chariot is an important Ethiopian official, who just happens to be reading a passage from Isaiah. A passage he doesn’t understand–but Philip does. “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35). The Ethiopian is moved and wants to be baptized. Philip obliges. But when they come up out of the water, “the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away” (Acts 8:39). Just when things start to get good, Philip is suddenly taken away. Yet the eunuch goes on his way rejoicing …. and Philip “appears” somewhere near the coast and carries on preaching as if nothing strange were happening.
All in a day’s work, right?
It is when you learn to dance with the Wind.
Philip was already doing the right things. He was where he was supposed to be, doing what he knew to be doing. When “suddenly” the Wind shifted and an unexpected opportunity presented itself.
I can’t help but wonder how I might have responded to the angel’s request:
“Really? Is this where you want me to go? Now?”
“What about what I’m doing here? Will I be back this way?”
“How will this work?”
“What about my family, my friends? What will they think?”
“I don’t feel ready!”
“This can’t be right. I didn’t expect it to look this way. Are you sure?”
I wish I could say these are merely hypothetical statements, but at one time or another I have found myself saying all of these things … and more.
Usually when the Wind suddenly changes course.
Jesus said, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
If we’re listening, we can hear the sound of the Wind. If we’re paying attention, we should “know the times.” When we have “ears to hear” we can hear the melody of a new song stirring gently upon the breeze; we can hear the rumblings of a new rhythm pulsating beneath the surface of what is seen; we can observe the changing of the season …
But the Wind still blows where it will.
We will never understand it all. But dancing doesn’t require understanding–it requires surrender.
For me, “dancing with the Wind” isn’t a matter of surrendering to his plans. He knows I will ultimately follow wherever he leads–no matter how unexpected or sudden some of his “moves” may be. He won the battle for my will long ago. He knows it–and I know it. But there is another battle that rages on …
The battle to surrender my desire to understand.
And–even more–the battle to surrender my desire to be understood.
The battle for understanding doesn’t stop the dance, but it sure does make it awkward! It makes my steps tentative and stiff, instead of confident and free. It hinders the beautiful, supernatural flow of the dance.
It makes it less enjoyable.
But it is possible to always enjoy the dance, wherever it does–or doesn’t–lead. It’s possible when you know the heartbeat of the One who is leading the dance. And once you know him, it really all comes down to one simple word:
Do I trust him?
Do I trust him when fulfillment of his promises looks so completely different from anything I could have imagined. Do I trust him through frequent changes in timing and tempo? Do I trust him through heartstopping dips and dizzying spins? Do I trust him when the Wind suddenly changes course and carries me away from a place that seemed to be filled with life and potential?
Do I trust him enough to sacrifice my desire to understand and be understood?
Do I trust him enough to lead me with peace and joy through every single step of this dance–no matter how unexpected some of them may be?
Philip did. It seems like he was having a really good time. I don’t see a lot of questioning or delays. I don’t see a lot of awkward movements. Just a heart filled with trust and joy. A heart ready to yield.
A heart ready and willing to dance with the Wind …
Wherever the Wind may blow.