Read His Words Before Ours!
I’m from Thyatira, a Roman city, but today I’m here in Philippi on business.
Yes, I’ve heard it all before…a “woman” doing “business”.
Well, that may be all good for you to hold on to your standards, but my life hasn’t “fit the mold” all that well. Like most girls, I was married young, but tragically, my husband passed away, even before I bore him any children. My “life mold” was broken before I’d begun. Widows are pretty much right next to dirt in my culture, especially ones without children or family to support us. I wouldn’t allow myself to become another beggar on the streets, eking out an existence for the rest of my life. I feel it in my gut; I was made for more.
Begging would have been easy, but if I wanted more, I knew I needed to work hard, which for me, is something I’ve always excelled at. I hate jobs left undone. Dying clothing purple is a select trade, because it’s so hard! Collecting the snails needed for the purple dye is one thing, but boiling them is quite another. Oh the horrid smell!! It’s so bad that, with several purple dealers along the coastline, the whole area reeks like dead snails!
The work is exhausting and perpetual; I’m constantly on the go, stuck in a never-ending cycle of tired! But it’s worth it; at least I’m not living on the streets. On the contrary, my purple clothing business has flourished and now I can even afford a few servants to help me. Even so, managing a business and putting up with the disdain of other women around me leaves me breathless in every aspect of life.
Though I’ve worked hard my whole life for success and acceptance and even survival, I’ve never felt quite good enough. Religion is a pretty big deal around here. People are always coming and going from the seaports, and new religious trends are as fashionable as the cloth I dye. I’m not a Jew, but I have friends who are Jews, they introduced me to their God, Yahweh. There are a lot of rules to be a follower of Yahweh, but it seemed like a worthy endeavor. I feel so lonely, despite my busyness. My Jewish friends have always been kind to me, however, so, I join them for worship, hoping to fill up my emptiness. They call me a “God fearer”, because I want to follow Yahweh, whose chosen people seem so gentle, and different, yet the stigma of being a Gentile, an “outsider” is something I still carry with me. I wonder how Yahweh really sees me? Does all my hard work even faze Him?
It’s the Sabbath today actually, and I’m walking towards the river to meet up with my Jewish friends. It’s been such a long week, my fingers are stained purple, my spirit is rumpled, I’m worried about a few business deals coming up, I am so tired. My body, yes, but my heart more so.
As I sit down to pray, I begin crying out to God. I work so hard, and pour so much out.
But for what?? I feel forsaken. Like I have been left behind.
That’s when I look up to see a couple of men, new faces I haven’t seen in my dealings. They seem like they have something to say. I lean in, inching closer to catch their words. They’re talking of a Savior, a man named Jesus. He lived close by not long ago, performing miracles, and showing what it means to truly love others. Apparently, He WAS Love itself. People from all over traveled to see Him. He was grace and truth and forgiveness. What is this? He was God? Yahweh in the flesh? He came to us, walking our streets, feeling our pain, only to be crucified at the hands of the Romans? But wait! He rose from the grave 3 days later, on the first day of the week. All to wash our sins away, debt free!
I can’t believe what I’m hearing! How could someone possibly love me that much? The best part? These men here, Paul and Silas, and I think the younger one is called Timothy, told me that even though I am a Gentile, all are accepted because of Jesus!
My heart is skipping inside me; my hard work doesn’t have to earn me a spot of acceptance after all! This beautiful feeling, these words of truth, I can’t deny them! I find myself asking to be baptized, right now in this water!
This isn’t the kind of news you keep to yourself. I have to share! I must get it out!
That day changed my life forever, but not just mine. I told everyone in my household, and by the power of the Lord, they all came to Christ as well. I invited Paul and his men to stay in my home as they continued preaching.
Those feelings of being made for more? Turns out they weren’t about selling purple cloth after all, they were God’s whispers for me to help others see His grace and baptized like I have!
God’s plans are much bigger than my own. I’m not just a woman who sells purple cloth.
I am strong because of Christ’s powerful redemption!
I am a warrior for the Lord.
I am beautiful and valued, and that’s something worth celebrating.
Forever I praise your name, Yahweh! Take my numbered days, and do with them what You wish. Bring glory to Your name. Use me!
Lydia’s life was busy and full, but she was still empty without redemption. Like Lydia’s purple dye, let Jesus’s love bleed into all areas of your life.
God has no interest at all in having part of you.
He wants all of you!
Ready for more? Dig Deeper!
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*written by Parker Overby and Rebecca Adams
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!