~ Heather Whidden
Lydia – I was immediately a fan of this chick! Hello! She was a seller of purple! The most fabulous of colors in the rainbow!!! Ok, maybe it’s just me. But in all seriousness, when you think about what the color purple represented, nobility and royalty, is it really any coincidence that God chose to open her heart?
Consider for a moment how unlikely it is that this meeting even took place to begin with. Lydia, a seller and producer of the much-coveted color purple that can only be afforded by the wealthiest, the Roman elite, crosses paths with Paul, the most influential apostle of Christianity at a river. That’s about as likely as Billy Graham meeting Vera Wang at the local bus station. And yet, this is where God chose to open the door for the gospel to be taken to the hearts of the Roman world and beyond; in the heart of a woman who sold purple.
God was moving in greater ways than anyone who was present that day could begin to foresee. But I see a foreshadowing of the impact and purpose Lydia would have. I doubt that in that moment that she could’ve imagined that her business would possibly have a life-changing effect on the world. We tend to miss the fact that God has us where we are in this moment in time, in the very situation we’re in because He has a plan bigger than we can comprehend.
Purple represented power, therefore it was power; Lydia produced it and God knew how to willed it for His glory. Lydia was instrumental in Paul’s planting of the church at Philipi, but her service to the kingdom goes much further than that. She wasn’t from there but from Thyatira, where she operated her thriving business, where the elite of all who traveled there for the precious cloth she sold, knew her; where she had great influence. Can you imagine the possibilities here???
Thyatira is only mentioned in two places in the bible. First in Acts 16, and then again in Revelation 2 as the fourth church the Lord addresses. Interestingly enough when Paul meets Lydia, there is no church in Thyatira. In fact, it was basically a secular city that had no focus on any particular religion. However, by Revelation 2, there IS a church and not only that, but the Lord is commending them for their love and good deeds. The scriptures do not say who started it, but regardless of who did the church planting I can’t help but think this has Lydia’s fingerprints all over it.
Think about it. This is a city where the elite from all over the world come to obtain the precious purple items that she manufactures; and Paul’s mission that he’s passing on to everyone he shares the gospel with is to take the Good News to all the earth! Lydia just happens to have the perfect opportunity to minister to the people of her town not to mention those visiting on business from other countries. I can easily see how the church of Thyatira existed because of the faith and service of this bold woman.
Receiving Jesus changes everything and you can’t help but desire to serve Him for what He’s done. God had a purpose for this woman. The same is for all of us. We can’t begin to fathom the destiny He’s given us, but it’s through serving Him that we find out just how significant we are.