Acts 14:8-14 “While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, ‘Stand up!’ And the man jumped to his feet and started walking. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, ‘These men are gods in human form!’ They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker. Now the temple of Zeus was located just outside the town. So the priest of the temple and the crowd brought bulls and wreaths of flowers to the town gates, and they prepared to offer sacrifices to the apostles.” (NLT)
At least one other version of the Bible says that the man had faith to be “made whole”. And The Message says that Paul recognized that the man was ripe for God’s work. Paul acts upon what he perceives, God moves and all sorts of craziness breaks out. This isn’t the only healing that is recorded in the Bible. Yet, it is one of the most drastic responses that we see. Why is that? Why is it that this singular healing so rocks a group of people that they are ready to proclaim Paul and Barnabas gods? The answer is simple: because the moment and timing were right. I believe that not only was the man ripe for God’s work, but so was the region.
In the account of Creation, we read that while the earth was formless and dark, the Holy Spirit was there, “hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2). What was He doing? I think He was preparing the area for what was to come. He was partnering with Father God in the creation of the world. I wasn’t there when the world was created (no matter how old I may seem to my children!). But, I can slightly imagine it. It would have been amazing and glorious and beyond comprehension to see as a simple phrase from our Father creates an entire new reality. However, can you imagine not just what you would see, but what you would feel? Can you imagine how pregnant the atmosphere would be with promise and possibility? Really, take a moment and try to imagine.
When the Holy Spirit “hovers”, He is impregnating an atmosphere with promise and possibility. I believe that is why the moment of that healing in Lystra was so significant. Holy Spirit had been hovering. God is the author of our faith. This man didn’t believe all on his own accord. In “Christianeze” we would say that the Lord had been “at work” in him. How? Through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was hovering over his life. Making him pregnant with promise and possibility. And it wasn’t just him. Judging by their reaction, the whole crowd appeared to be “ripe for God’s work”. Therefore, when Paul perceives what is happening in the Spirit and acts upon it, he isn’t simply healing a man. Instead, he is ushering in a transition of season–spiritually, speaking. He is taking an atmosphere that is ripe with possibility and causing the possibility to become reality. When he does, the place explodes. (And, not all in a good way, if you read to the end of the story. However, that is another lesson for another day.)
The point is, Paul was able to take an intangible promise and make a tangible reality because he correctly perceived the spiritual atmosphere of a man. I think that we are invited to participate with the Holy Spirit in the same way today. Holy Spirit is hovering in our day and hour. Can you feel Him? Can you sense the promise and possibility of our day? The earth is pregnant with it. Right now, the area where you live is ripe for God’s work. Your job is to perceive it, just like Paul. Then, partner with the Holy Spirit to create that reality.
That is how spiritual seasons shift. Holy Spirit hovers. He impregnates a person, area or idea. Then, at the proper time, someone senses that “birth” is near and begins to declare the reality of the Kingdom of God in that day, hour and season…and everything changes.
Let’s be like Paul. Let’s not be unaware of what the Lord is doing. Let’s stay sensitive to the hovering of Holy Spirit. Let’s be in tune with the atmosphere we are in. Then, at the right time, let’s partner with God and change the world. Who’s with me?
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