The Lord opened her heart. 

Can you imagine being evangelized by Paul?   This larger-than-life figure must have had a commanding presence.   What about the story of his own conversion?   Who could dismiss a man whose life had been changed so dramatically?   It would have been nearly impossible to resist him.   So it’s easy to think that it was Paul’s eloquent explanation of the gospel that persuaded Lydia to become a Christian. But Scripture tells us that it was the Lord who opened her heart.   Yes, Paul’s words certainly played an important role.   But when all is said and done, conversion is God’s work, not ours.

What a relief!   It’s not up to us to change a person’s mind.   It’s not our job to pierce their hearts or alter their behavior.   That’s God’s job.   It’s his grace, his Holy Spirit, who works in someone’s life.   Whether we are trying to encourage one of our children to come back to church or we are attempting to be a godly influence in our workplace, our efforts can accomplish only so much.   The rest—indeed, the most important part—is up to the Spirit.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we should do nothing.   Like Paul, we have an important role to play.   If Paul had not been there, Lydia and her household might not have ever accepted the Lord.   Our persistence, our compassion, and even our creativity are vital in paving the way for people to open their hearts to the Lord.   As St. Augustine has said, we should pray as if everything depends on God and work as if everything depends on us.

So intercede and don’t give up.   Do what you can to help people along the way.   Love them in gentle, practical ways so that they can come to see Jesus in you.   Speak encouraging words to them so that they can come to trust that God loves them. Even offer to pray an Our Father or Hail Mary with them when they are burdened so that they can experience what it’s like to talk with the Lord.   But always remember that God is the One who makes the biggest difference.   He will complete the good work he has begun.

word among us