“A vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia … saying, Come … help us” (Acts 16:9).
The events recorded in the sixteenth chapter of Acts have a particular interest for us, because this was the first time the Gospel got into Europe. The Apostle Paul had been going on with his work in Asia, but then he tries to go somewhere and is hindered (16:6). Then he tries to go in another direction but is hindered again (16:7). Then God sends Paul a vision of a man from Greece saying, “Come over, and help us.”
Well, the voyage is made, and the city of Philippi is reached. The next thing we read is: “A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple … heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul” (16:14). I have no doubt that Lydia was an inquiring soul, one who knew herself a guilty sinner, but nothing she had ever heard up to that moment had met her soul’s need.
If you, beloved friend, have never met the Son of God the Savior—if you do not personally know the Lord Jesus Christ—there is a want in your heart that nothing but God Himself can satisfy. Be sure of this: let people have anything they want in this life, but if they are without Christ, they are unsatisfied. The fact is that your heart is too big for the world to fill. Money will not fill it, and pleasure will not fill it. There is a need, a want, a void in the soul which is never met until Christ is known.
Such a void was in Lydia’s heart, and with what gladness did she hear the glad tidings of the blessed Savior—His coming into the world, His life, His death, His resurrection, the joyful news of forgiveness, and pardon, and peace through His name! Her heart was opened, and she drank in the good news. She received the Gospel of Christ into her heart, and she received the servants of Christ into her home (16:15). She was not ashamed to take a stand for the Lord.
Why did God send Paul to Europe? To show the way of salvation, and Lydia was the first to find it. I think the heart of the Apostle Paul was exceedingly happy when he found himself under Lydia’s roof. “Thank God,” he could say, “for the first convert in Europe, and the work will now spread.” And truly it did.
—Adapted from Night Scenes of Scripture by W. T. P. Wolston.