9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
One day Ralph came home late, he had to get something done on the car and it had taken longer than he expected. He found his wife was lying on the floor. She was conscious; they brought her to the hospital, but soon she died. He had never really gone to church much, in fact, he was not even sure that he had been baptized. It had never seemed that important to him.
His children, however, were church goers, attending a large non-denominational church in California. Their mom had been born north of the artic circle in Norway, so they figured she was Lutheran. That’s why they called me. They knew no pastor in town. I met the family at the funeral home and spoke of baptism, for I had never met this woman and only knew that she was a sinner but had been baptized. I think every pastor has had this happen a few times in ministry. The Holy Spirit used those words to work powerfully in the heart of her husband. He started coming to church. A brilliant man, he had started an international environmental cleanup company. He is one of the few people I can honestly say genuinely likes organic chemistry. Luke records that the Lord opened Lydia’s heart. She was a businesswoman, a merchant of purple clothing, a luxury item in that time as purple was a difficult dye to obtain. She opened one of her homes up to Paul and his companions as a place to live. When Ralph came to church, we were looking to start a preschool and daycare in that little congregation I served. I did not have a clue, however, how to start a business. When I said as much, Ralph smiled. He knew how to start a business. God had opened his heart and given this man to us just when we needed him. Jesus, risen from the dead, was taking care of His Church.