Authored by Dan Roselle
I’d exchanged emails with Matt for a week or so regarding a business issue, and we had agreed to meet at Starbucks so we could discuss things in person.
I’ve always believed, as the Bible says, that “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.”1 Or, as one translation put it, “The Lord guides us in the way we should go.”2 I don’t know how others might interpret this verse, but for me it has meant that if my life manifests the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, etc.—then Jesus will lead me in His path. 3 Recently I’ve been finding more so than ever that “ordering my steps” is exactly what the Lord has been doing in my life. You might call some of these things coincidence, but for me it’s proof that Jesus not only knows who I am, but He hears my prayers—even the seemingly simple ones—He’s close by and He’s more involved in my life than I might realize.
On this day, as I entered Starbucks I quickly prayed, “Jesus, please make it easy for me to find Matt.” I had no idea what he looked like, and we hadn’t come up with a method beforehand of how we would find each other. My plan was to stand by the coffee mug displays where I could scan everyone in the crowded store and try to see if anyone was looking for me. So, I entered Starbucks and just as I was about to pass the counter the barista yells out “Matt! Your latte is ready.” And then Matt stands up to get his drink and honestly he was just about two feet in front of me.
“Matt!” I said, extending my hand as we both introduced ourselves. We marveled at how coincidental it was. We sat down and talked for quite a while, and when our business conversation was over he began to tell me about his life, his studies, and graduating from high school in Germany. “Why Germany?” I asked. It turned out his dad had been in the military, and after his discharge, he studied to become a pastor and went to Germany as a missionary for a number of years. “How interesting,” I said, “as that’s what I have been for 40 years—a missionary.”
On the drive back home, my thoughts went back to how awesome it was that the Lord engineered the precise moments we would meet. It was an answer to prayer for sure, but it also once again showed me that God knows my thoughts, orders my steps, and is very involved in my life. I love it when things like that happen. I like to think that Jesus likes to do little things like this just to make my life exciting. When the unexpected things happen, it reminds me that He really is in control of my life, and as that verse says, my steps are ordered by Him.
I was just thinking about a time in the Bible when someone’s steps were ordered by the Lord. Philip, one of Jesus’ disciples, was preaching and doing some mighty miracles in Samaria after Jesus’ resurrection. (You can read his story in Acts 8:5.) At one point, after Philip had led many souls to Christ and healed multitudes in the towns and villages of the area, an angel told him to leave Samaria and go to a desert road near Jerusalem. Do you think he argued with the angel and said something like, “Hey, Mr. Angel, I’m just getting started with my ministry here in Samaria. Thousands have been saved, multitudes healed, things are looking up. I can see this place really exploding soon. So, how about we put this ‘desert trip’ off for a few months or so?” The Bible says, “He arose and went.” Sounds like he didn’t hesitate at all.
The distance from Samaria to the desert was maybe 100 miles, not far by our standards. However, traveling on foot or by donkey in the mountainous terrain in those ancient times was a different story. It could have taken him weeks to get to his destination. Now the Bible doesn’t say how long he was there in the desert, nor what he was doing while he was there; it just says that on his way he met an important Ethiopian official, something like a finance minister to the Queen of Ethiopia.
This man had been in Jerusalem to worship and was reading from the book of Isaiah, trying to understand certain scriptures. (You might remember that this is the same book that Jesus read from in the synagogue in Luke 4:17.) This entourage was passing on the road near Philip when the message he had been waiting for came. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading from the book of Isaiah, chapter 53, right at the part where it’s talking about Jesus’ crucifixion. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
If you’re familiar with the story you know that down the road the finance minister accepted and believed in Jesus and wanted to be baptized. What an amazing story. And we know from history that the country of Ethiopia became one of the first Christian nations in the world. Perhaps it started with this influential man in the government who took back what he had learned from Philip and shared it with many. The moral of the story: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” Philip obeyed that first angelic message, just like he obeyed when Jesus had called him years before, saying, “follow Me.4 And as he obeyed, God made sure that he was in the right place at the right time to change a life.
Not long ago while my wife and I were on a business trip, we stayed in a hotel for a couple of days. After a full day of work, the swimming pool was especially inviting. And seeing I had forgotten to bring a swimsuit, I bought a pair of board shorts at a nearby store. When I put them on I found an unusual object in the pocket. The brand of the board shorts was Billabong (which as you know is an Australian clothing brand), and the object in the pocket looked like a comb of sorts. My wife and I couldn’t figure out what it was. “Oh, well, maybe I’ll see a young person and I can ask them to tell me what that is.” Now I can’t say that that was a prayer, as I wasn’t necessarily directing it to Jesus; it was more just a little curious thought.
Well, to my surprise, when I stepped into the elevator, another fellow came inside and greeted me with, “G’day, mate.” Ah! An Australian! I thought. We struck up a conversation and I found out that he was indeed Australian and temporarily in this city on a job assignment. I quickly pulled the comb object from my pocket and said, “I have a question for you; what is this?” In his delightful Aussie accent, he proceeded to excitedly explain how this “comb” was used for putting wax on a surfboard. Although I was interested in the object, I mostly was amazed at how Jesus arranged that brief meeting in an unlikely place to satisfy my curiosity. Was it necessary for me to get that explanation? Not really, but it made me feel Jesus’ presence, as I was sure He had a hand in that little meeting.
This personal event doesn’t compare to some of the stories in the Bible where God orchestrated little setups in order to use someone greatly. One such person was David. In first Samuel 17:17, it says David’s father told him to take food to his brothers who were fighting a battle against the Philistines. David obeyed and loaded up his donkey with food and went to the battlefield. It was while he was on that mission that he eventually saw Goliath, heard his threats, and he volunteered to fight. The rest is history. David was just obeying his father and doing the humble task of taking food to his older brothers, and God did the rest.
You’re probably also familiar with the story in Acts chapter 3 of Peter and John healing the lame man. The disciples had just gotten filled with the Spirit after waiting in the upper room for 40 days after Jesus ascended into heaven. Then they began preaching up a storm and healing many, and their miracles were seen all over Jerusalem. On a daily basis they would go into the temple to preach and pray,5 so we can assume that they walked this particular route into the temple many times. Why is it that on this day, Peter and John noticed a lame man, whom the Bible says was begging at the temple courts every day? It’s very possible that Peter and John had walked by this man numerous times. Had he asked them for a handout before? What was different this time?
I doubt that when Peter and John woke up that morning that they thought, “Today’s a fine day for an amazing miracle. Let’s go heal someone and make a big scene in the temple.” Most likely they were going about their business, and after their lunch—the Bible says it was around three in the afternoon—they headed over to the temple to join others in prayer.
When the lame man saw Peter and John, he asked them for money. Then Peter said those famous words, “Silver [and] gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”6 Not only was it an amazing miracle, but something electric seemed to happen that day as multitudes who heard about the miracle crowded around to hear Peter and John preach a powerful message about Jesus. So once again, on an ordinary day, God guided the steps of two good men so that they would be in the right place at the right time for His will to come about.
I know that the simple things that happened to me which I talked about here are not near as great as what happened to Philip, David, Peter, or John. Nonetheless, it’s these little things that remind me that Jesus is very near and involved in my life. Those times are special to me; I recognize them as proof that He is watching me and knows my thoughts. It sure makes me love Him so much more.
What about you? Are you living your life as Jesus would want you to? Do you do your best to be loving, kind, gentle, considerate, and joyful? If you are and you love Him as much as you can, then you can trust that God is also ordering your steps—guiding you and intricately involved in your life.
1 Psalm 37:23 KJV.
2 Good News Translation.
3 Galatians 5:22–23.
4 John 1:43.
5 Acts 2:46.
6 Acts 3:6 NIV.
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright © 2011 by The Family International