This is post #2 about the life of Stephen. Check here to read my introduction to this study.
The first thing that interests me about Stephen is that he came to know the Lord the way he did while living a very ordinary, busy life.
“Choose out from among yourselves seven men… whom we will appoint to this duty.” So said the apostles to the church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:3). The duty they were referring to was the daily food distribution to widows. By their own admission, fulfilling this duty would have kept the twelve too busy to give much time to prayer and the ministry of the word (see verses 2 and 4). Stephen was one of seven men chosen to bear this responsibility in the apostles’ stead.
So from the moment Stephen steps onto the scene of early church history we see a man laden with responsibility enough to keep him too busy to devote much time to prayer and Bible study. Contrast this with our modern conception of what it takes to get to know the Lord well-spending hours a day on your knees and learning the Bible so well you can quote it backwards and forwards-and things just don’t add up. Stephen spent most of his time working a job and caring for the practical needs of widows, yet somehow he was able to cultivate an inner awareness of and fellowship with the Lord that both transcended and transformed his outward busyness. In the words of brother Lawrence, Stephen learned to practice the presence of God. Daily. Moment by moment.
Undoubtedly this is what made for Stephen’s transformation: daily, constant, inward fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This same kind of relationship to the Lord is available to you and me today. The question is, do we even know the Lord lives within us? Not just in some rhetorical, abstract, hypothetical kind of way, but really… have you ever sensed His presence deep in your spirit? Have you been awakened to this knowledge-“the secret, which has been hid for ages and generations but is now revealed to the saints” (Col. 1:26), which is Christ in you?
Take a moment to still your soul and turn within to your spirit. Touch the Lord there. Spend some time beholding Him. Speak whatever words of adoration or praise well up from within. Enjoy Him. This is what He desires more than anything. Then realize that the Lord has called us, in the words of A.W. Tozer, into an everlasting preoccupation with Himself. This is eternal life, that we might know Him (John 17:3), and this is the knowledge that produces a man of Stephen’s calibre.