Maybe nothing has ever stopped you from attending the church of your choice, but you sure know what it is to feel unnoticed, overlooked, and unseen. Yet, not by God.
As women, it’s easy to feel overlooked, isn’t it?
We serve our families, we serve our spouses, and we serve at the church. While all those things are good and God-honoring, we tend to feel unseen. We go through the motions and make sure everything around us is running smoothly in our households, feeling worn out and worn thin, all the while wondering if anyone would notice if we stopped. We remember birthdays and carpool pick-up time and who likes which flavor of Jello for the family grocery list. We remember to put water in the dog’s bowl, switch out the laundry, and make the payment for Child #1’s sport that's due by this upcoming date.
We’re not even necessarily after a thank you, so much as we just want to be seen. Noticed. Acknowledged.
Does that resonate?
It does for me, which is why I’m so fascinated by the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in the book of Acts. Nothing shows us the intentionality of the Lord more so than this story. And most people almost miss it!
Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch
Acts 8:26-28 (ESV) "Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, 'Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.' This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah."
Philip was given clear instructions from the Lord to stop whatever he was doing at the time and travel south to Gaza. This wasn’t a quick jaunt. And it wasn’t an air-conditioned path—it was in the middle of the desert. I love how the Word specifies “This is a desert place.” It’s an important detail for what comes later.
Philip obeyed the Lord—he went immediately. And there he encountered the Ethiopian Eunuch, riding in his chariot and reading Scripture from Isaiah. This Eunuch in particular held an important job…he was in charge of all the Queen’s treasure. Because of his high profile in the kingdom duties, and most likely his proximity to concubines of the King, he was made into a eunuch.
By definition, a eunuch is a man who has been castrated.
Already, that’s hard to accept. We feel badly for him, though we recognize the culture and customs of the time and maybe shrug a little, like “well, that’s what the job called for, after all…” But there were detrimental consequences of that position that we don’t typically consider.
Deuteronomy 23:1 (ESV) “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord."
Graphic, yes, but it was this man’s reality. This wasn’t just a personal consequence or life-altering act done to him, though it was certainly that. More so, however, being castrated meant that according to the old covenant, this man and others like him were forbidden from entering the assembly of the Lord.
He was an outcast.
And yet, there he was, sitting in his chariot, trying to read from the prophet Isaiah.
Scripture as the Default
When I feel unseen, I don’t typically default to Scripture. I tend to default to a pity party, or a vent session with a friend, or a sassy text message. But this man, who had every reason to feel unwanted and cast aside, was searching for meaning in old scrolls. Ouch.
Acts 8:29-33 (ESV) "And the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go over and join this chariot.' So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' And he said, 'How can I, unless someone guides me?' And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:
'Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.'"
I must point out how Philip obeyed two hard commands here, back-to-back. First, he went. We don’t know how many hours, days, or weeks Philip had been walking before he even encountered the chariot. That’s a tall order, especially in desert heat. But then, when the Spirit prompted again and told Philip to go join the chariot, Philip ran to it.
Y’all, this chariot wasn’t parked in the shade. It was being pulled by horses. I don’t know about you, but I complained last Sunday walking across the church parking lot to my car.
So good ol’ Philip obeyed (again), and big things happened. (There’s another article somewhere in there!)
Watch and See
Acts 8:34-38 (ESV) "And the eunuch said to Philip, 'About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?' Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, 'See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?' And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him."
Philip explained the Gospel to the eunuch. Probably hot, probably a little breathless from outrunning a chariot, but never missing a beat. The Holy Spirit came for that eunuch, and he used Philip to reach him.
Wow. None of this was coincidence. Philip didn’t happen to run into this fellow on a common journey. He was sent, specifically, by the Lord, for the purpose of running into this fellow. God planned the entire thing because He loved the eunuch.
Then, if that wasn’t enough, a body of water appeared on their journey. This was a desert, remember? Scripture pointed that out in the beginning. Yet somehow, the eunuch is pointing out “look, water!” and wanting to be baptized. So, the Lord not only saved the man and brought him into the places he’d been cast aside, He provided water for the baptism!
The Grab Bag of Miracles
This Biblical account is a downright grab bag of miracles. I love it.
Now, let all of this soak in. The eunuch, who had been outside of the assembly, forbidden from gathering or worshipping for most likely the majority of his life, was now fully accepted. And not just accepted—chosen. Can you imagine his joy? His relief? His awe? He’d always been pushed out. Rejected because of circumstances he very possibly never even had a say in. But there he was now, one of the inner circle of Christ followers. Saved by grace.
We see that incredible joy in the final verses. Acts 8:39 (ESV) "And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing."
So often, we read this story and sort of let Philip steal the show. “He teleported! Wha-what?!” I know that was always my response. Until a closer look showed me there were much bigger miracles at play here, much more meaningful implications. The teleportation is pretty cool, not going to lie. But what causes me to worship the most isn’t that miracle, but that God Himself made a way for this man to come to Him.
It's the Gospel, right there in a chariot. It’s beautiful. It’s intentional.
It’s not recorded that the eunuch came out of the water from his baptism and freaked out, wondering where Philip went. It’s recorded that he went on his way rejoicing. He was much more overcome by the supernatural that had just occurred in his heart than he was by the supernatural event of Philip being whisked away.
And guess what? That same God who pursued the eunuch pulled by horses pursues you. If you’re a believer and a child of God, it’s because you were sought after. Maybe you’re not an outcast from the assembly. Maybe nothing has ever stopped you from attending the church of your choice, but you sure know what it is to feel unnoticed, overlooked, and unseen.
Yet, not by God.
You are noticed. You are fully seen. And as His child, you are accepted and chosen and safe in Him. Remind your heart of these truths when you’re tempted to despair, and instead, follow the eunuch’s lead—rejoice!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/MatthiasLindner
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of over twenty romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hubby, two daughters, an impressive stash of coffee mugs, and one furry Schnauzer-toddler. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored to truth. When she’s not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can be found somewhere in the vicinity of an iced coffee. She is a regular contributor to iBelieve.com and offers author coaching and editorial services via Storyside LLC.