Acts 16:16-18

The Instagram account “Humans of New York” has 11.5 million followers and shares the stories of all kinds of people through interviews and photos. Some stories take just one entry. Others span several days, holding readers in suspense until they find out what happens next in the person’s journey. Some stories deal with unrequited love, separation or estrangement from family members, or someone’s lifelong quest to realize a dream. Some celebrate the faithfulness of friends or loved ones. Some are triumphant. Many are heartbreaking. Some leave questions unanswered. They remind me of stories in the Bible. 

When we’re looking for an example of an independent woman who was both a leader in the Christian faith and a gracious host, we can look to Lydia, the businesswoman who converted to Christianity. But Scripture invites us to consider more complicated stories as well, like this story of the slave girl in Acts. While Lydia’s story shows the successful side of Philippi, the text about the unnamed slave girl exposes the harshness of a marketplace that values money over lives. Lydia owns a home and belongs to a community while the slave girl is alone, trailing after strangers for days, trying to get their attention. 

I don’t wonder about what happened next to Lydia, but I’m concerned about this young girl. My imagination asks why Paul couldn’t have connected these two women. How would the girl’s life been different if she had been an apprentice in Lydia’s thriving purple cloth business? Might she have been bought and freed? As I grasp for a happy ending here, I find myself led to ponder how I can care for at-risk children today right in my own city. 


Which stories tend to “haunt” you and lead you to wonder what happened next?


God, help me to pay attention to the stories that unsettle me and find ways to help those who need my concern and an extra hand. Amen.

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