Welcome! It’s nice to be blogging again after a break. I just finished reading a book from the library called ‘Blogging your book’. It had all sorts of tips about attracting publishers and marketing your stories etc.., etc.. the more I read about marketing and writing proposals the faster I flipped the pages and thought I am not ready for this! So most of the content got shelved for a different season. I did feel inspired though to write more often and more regularly.
Usually I blog curled up on the couch clutching my ipad or phone. Today is different because my lovely hubby bought me a proper computer which helps my posture and, perhaps, my sense of purpose. As I write, I am sitting in our office facing a giant screen and having memories of staring at computer screens and frantically trying to write college papers. I am so glad that you, my dear readers, are not waiting to seal my fate with a single letter and red pen. So I will sit back (as far as I can on a stool), sip my water and let this post unfold. Enjoy!
I have always been a fan of characters who aren’t the biggest stars. The background people. Maybe it’s because I can indentify with them. Having older siblings, not excelling in sports or being super popular/outgoing often left me in the background. One of my greatest joys is to bring acknowledgment to background people by sending messages, introducing people etc… this sentiment carries over into my writing about women in the bible. There are endless numbers of books and posts about the stars or major “bad girls” Mary, Esther, Ruth, Delilah, etc.. Today’s character, Lydia, does not give birth to the son of God, she does not marry a powerful king and save her nation from destruction, she doesn’t sacrifice everything for her mother-in-law, nor does she bring down one of the strongest men in history. She does, however, shine in such a way that after reading about her once I remembered her. Maybe you will too.
Lydia’s story is only about half a paragraph in the book of Acts, sandwiched between a life altering dream and a posessed servant, a bloody brawl and bizarre jail break. Her presence is an oasis of peace for Paul and his friends in their travels.
On the Sabbath (day of rest), we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay”…. So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed. (Acts 16:13-15,40, ESV)
The first thing that attracted me to Lydia’s story was the fact that it is not known if she had a husband or children, she was described by her career alone. Her “household” could have meant family or servants. My last few posts have focused a lot on the role of marriage and parenting, very important roles and very much talked about in the bible. Lydia’s story is refreshing by giving us a break from that and honouring the many roles that women can have in society.
Lydia is open and enthusisastic. Encountering her must have felt like a cool drink pouring down a very dry throat for Paul and his friends. Paul was called in a dream to set sail again to a new land. There were no first class tickets or jets back then. I can only imagine how weary the travellers were. Some of my most exhausting travels were driving around the Comox Valley, often 100 km/day no matter the weather to provide care for seniors. My job was to care for them with no expectations in return, but when a sweet old person gave me a bright smile and perhaps invited me to join them for their tea I felt the pure refreshment of hospitality.
I have to give a kudos to my parents for raising us in a culture of hospitality. For homestay students, neighbours, friends, classmates, co-workers and travelling families there was always a place at our table and our home. We could only afford bacon once a year on Christmas day and our guest room did not have a feather duvet but my parents gave the best they had and continue to do so. I did have to pee in our backyard a couple of times when we had 12 people living in a house with one bathroom… but I survived!
I love how Lydia’s hospitality to Paul is the result of something, it does not stand alone. When Lydia heard the traveller’s story The Lord opened her heart to pay attention… and she responded by giving her whole heart and life.
I have mentioned on facebook and perhaps to you in person that I am in a very new season in life. Obviously, being married and, at the moment, not working as a teacher. This season reminds me of other times of transition.. between nursing school and getting my BA, between BA and teaching, between China, Vancouver and Quadra. Every time I am in a place of transition, a “park bench”, a waiting period, I am tempted to get really busy with something so that I can feel important and valuable, perhaps be like Mary or Esther. When I stop to listen though, I can always hear that gentle voice and the invitation to open my heart to those around me right now. My Creator who loves it when I sing to him and read his word and share my heart, my husband who has given himself to me fully, the friends that I go out for tea with and chat with on various technology devices, my neighbours, and my family who, for the first time in many years, are all living close by. It’s interesting that Paul and Lydia met on a day of rest. Does that exist in my life? One of my greatest fears in really resting is that I will morph into an ultra lazy person who will never again wash a dish or do anything practical ever again. Lydia’s story doesn’t show that. The result of her resting and gathering with others and opening her heart was being able to offer a valuable service.
As the new year approaches and we may think about resolutions to “do more”, my challenge to myself and you is to create space for our hearts to be opened and filled and overflow to others. Happy New Year.