Last year I read a superb little book called ‘The 10-Second Rule’ by Clare de Graaf. The rule, as the writer describes it, is very simple: ‘Within ten seconds, do the next thing you’re reasonably sure Jesus wants you to do, and you could change a life forever.’
The point is that (like Simeon in day 20) we all get ‘nudges’ to do certain things. A person to call, a note to write, maybe we see someone while we’re out and feel that we should say hello or offer help. Clare de Graaf encourages us to consider that these might be divine prompts, Spirit-led nudges to live out our faith in lots of small acts of kindness.
We don’t need to be sure – as humans, we’ll get it wrong sometimes. But the point is: if the thought that crosses your mind is a good one, if it seeks the other person’s good and wellbeing, then it’s pretty likely that God would smile if we did it, indeed we might even conclude that He put the thought there in the first place.
Ultimately, the underlying theology – and I think it’s a very good way to live – is that Christian character is shaped less by our big, dramatic decisions than by the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of simple obedience. But de Graaf is right to observe that we shouldn’t ‘overthink’ these nudges – which I have to admit is what I do all the time. That’s why he calls it the 10-Second Rule: you’ve got to act on the impulse quickly, because if you wait more than ten seconds thinking it over, debating with yourself, the moment will have gone. The person you saw in the street will have walked past, the phone call that flitted through your mind will be replaced by thoughts of what’s for lunch, or whatever.
In today’s reading, Philip got one of these nudges. A random chariot trundled past on the road and the Spirit said to Philip: ‘Go and approach it’ (v29). Philip had to respond quickly: wait a while thinking it over, and the chariot would be gone. Philip – who had learned to trust these nudges – acted immediately (v30), and the result was amazing. Just by ‘coincidence’ the chap in the chariot was reading the best chapter in the whole Old Testament pointing to the sacrificial death of the Messiah, and wanted someone to explain it! The result: a new follower of Jesus, and moreover an influential leader travelling back to another country, taking the message there with him.
Not all of our ‘divine appointments’ will be so spectacular. But let’s not ignore those nudges we get to contact or to bless someone else. They might just be God’s idea… and if we act on them, just like Philip or Clare de Graaf, who knows, we might get to change a life forever.
Why not pray for a ‘nudge’ today… and for grace to act upon it, too!