Knowing the will of God is not always easy. From Acts 6-7, we looked at the importance of the community that you are a part of helping to guide your personal role and calling. For the leaders of the early church, it was the growing need of the widows who were not being properly cared for which prompted the leaders to take action and adjust how they spend their time. And a new church structure was born.
7 men were chosen to fill that role of feeding the widows and one of them was a man named Stephen. Was it part of God’s will that Stephen obeyed and responded to the need at that church? Yes. Was that God’s ultimate call for Stephen? No. A chapter later in Acts 7 we read about how Stephen is on trial and eventually stoned. Who could have predicted that one moment this godly man would be serving the widows and the very next moment he would be martyred? No one.
The important principle here is that God leads us step by step. We can’t over-plan, we can’t confidently say I know God’s calling on my life and I will die doing this or that. God’s ways are higher than our ways. From a worldly standpoint, a man of such potential who could have helped to help build the church like Stephen having his life cut short is a big waste. Think of how many widows he could have served or eventually how many churches he could have planted, how many people he could have led to Christ. But this is a worldly calculation.
God was most pleased with his servant Stephen. His was a short life but great in its long-term impact. As we read at the end of Acts 7 and the beginning of Acts 8, Saul was watching Stephen being killed. What Saul observed in the witness of Stephen dying with such grace and dignity must have disturbed him greatly because we read in Acts 9 that Saul is converted and becomes the great Apostle Paul.
The only waste from God’s point of view is a person who is unwilling to trust and be led by God. We may have a picture of what we think our life should become or how we should be used, but only God knows the big picture. Our life might be just one tiny piece of turning the heart of someone in the next generation who will lead thousands to Christ.
All we can do is to trust.