The first time I heard the sound, I had no idea what it might be.
It was like someone was tinkering with something outside in the yard.
Following the sound I could tell it wasn’t someone, but a couple of birds taking turns to observe themselves in a mirror perched on the wall, swooping in rhythmically to tap their beaks on the glass.
When you hear the sound but have no context, and finally see the sound happening, it all makes sense.
Reading through the book of Acts last week, the sound of tapping (the times I had read this passage before) took on a new dimension when I saw it afresh.
I like how God is very specific and has such divine knowledge about people, places (including an address we could probably find if we were in that time) and motivations.
Acts 9:11 – 15: God tells Ananias, a Believer, exactly where to find Saul (the house of Judas on Straight Street), what Saul is doing (praying), what he has seen (a vision of Ananias), what he will do (His chosen instrument to proclaim His name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel) and the suffering he must endure.
Meanwhile, the apostle Peter goes on his way to Joppa to heal a well loved Christian woman who had died.
Acts 10:3 – 6: The angel of God tells a Gentile centurion, Cornelius, that his prayers have been noticed by God, to go fetch a particular man (Simon who is called Peter) at a particular place in Joppa (staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea).
Acts 10:9 – 20: God gives Peter a vision (when he’s hungry) of a pagan smorgasbord on a sheet (may I picture a picnic blanket with bratwurst and bacon?), and tells him that he needs to go along with the guys who will come looking for him.
Neither Peter, nor Cornelius knew exactly why God arranged this get-together, and it worked out as a good surprise for the both of them.
I’ve read this passage so many times on the way through the book. Familiar with Acts chapter 2 and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. But here, God is including Gentiles. They are receiving the gospel, they are speaking in tongues.
Peter realised that he hadn’t really realised something that he should have realised before then: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism”. In other words, God makes Gentiles clean in the same way he makes Jews clean, through Christ.
The circumcised Believers (with Peter) “were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles”.
What a privilege for Cornelius, for his house having been chosen as the place where the Holy Spirit would fall on the Gentiles.
I wonder what Paul may have thought of this. Newly saved, with his frame of reference having been radically shifted, I think he may have appreciated it.
I bet there are many ways that God can surprise me when it comes to which people he chooses to work in.
I’m waiting for the day my Israeli and Palestinian brothers have the Holy Spirit poured out on them.