Watch out for this in the 2021 new year


I hardly know her.

“Linda - nice woman on Second Ave.” That’s what I put in my phone the day we met. But I changed it over the weekend. There was no choice after the Christmas incident, as you’ll see.

Linda and I met last summer when I went in search of Willard.


Willard was supposed to be a cheap, safe worker. I’m trying to sell property, so I needed someone like Willard. But I didn’t have his phone number or an exact address, just a neighborhood.

So, you see my predicament. I had to go in search of Willard.

Willard lives in an area where some places are safer than others. I knew I’d be ok. It was sunny—people would be mowing lawns, washing cars, walking dogs. Someone would know Willard. Easy, right?

I roamed quiet streets, passed empty sidewalks, stared at vacant, well-kept yards. I circled around and around. No one. Anywhere.

I’d just about given up when I spotted a woman parked along the street. The rear of her van was open; she was delivering something to a few people gathered outside a house. One was in a wheelchair.

They were happy to see her. She seemed like a family member, possibly a social worker.

When I asked for directions to Willard’s house, she said, “I’ll show you.”

So, I followed her.

Once we reached the house, she looked doubtful. “Why Willard?”

I explained, and she found her phone.

“Call James,” she said. “His wife goes to our church.”

I couldn’t have been happier. And James was great.

I asked for Linda’s advice several times after that. I’m on my own here, if you hadn’t put that together.

Last week, as Christmas rolled around, I offered her my “Covid-food,” what I'd bought in the spring that I’d never eat. I wasn’t throwing it away. Someone in her congregation would want it.

“The church is behind where I met you,” she said.

I arrived first and sat there studying the small, brick building. A Baptist church. Then I gasped and grabbed for my phone.

“Linda, what is your last name?”

“Duncan,” she said.

The sign in front of the church read: “Rev. Linda Duncan.”

Let me tell you how many Baptist women ministers I personally know. One. Linda.

Let me tell you how many I think are in this city of 50,000 and a valley of nearly 200,000. Two, Linda plus me.

And the one reverend found the other.

There are wonderful stories like this in Scripture. Remember the determined man who traveled from his far-away country to Jerusalem to worship God? This wasn’t long after the death of Jesus.

When he arrived, God’s temple was closed to him. But the man refused to leave Jerusalem empty handed. He used his wealth to buy a scroll, the book of Isaiah.

From the Qumran discovery about 75 years ago, we know an Isaiah scroll could be 24 feet long and roughly 10 inches tall. It would have stretched across two good-sized rooms.

So, the man begins reading about God as he travels south to his homeland.

In the meantime, God sends an angel to Philip, directing Philip to that desert road. The Spirit then tells Philip to go to the man’s chariot. Philip hurries there, arriving just as the man is reading this passage:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter…” Isaiah 53:7

What a perfect moment.

“Do you understand what you’re reading?” Philip asks.

“How can I unless someone guides me,” the man says.

He invites Philip to sit with him, and Philip explains the good news of Jesus. The man then wants to be baptized. This is the Ethiopian eunuch.

Did the eunuch think Philip’s arrival was a wonderful coincidence? Perhaps, but as Philip raises the man out of the water, the Spirit carries Philip away. What might have seemed a “coincidence” was clearly God. Acts 8:26-40

In my cell phone, “Linda - nice woman on Second Ave.” now reads “Rev. Linda Duncan.”

Why did God want us to know one another? I have an idea. There’s something I’m meant to do, and I’m missing a key. Linda might know where it is.

God has also put something on your heart for this New Year. If you feel confused or discouraged, remember the Ethiopian eunuch. God brought Philip to him in the desert at exactly the right moment.

The Lord knows your needs. Pay attention. Watch and see the hand of God move and the glory of the Almighty.

The Rev. Mathews may be reached at Copyright 2020 R.A. Mathews All rights reserved

This article originally appeared on The Star: Watch out for this in the 2021 new year


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