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    They called it Turkey Red along
    The Lycus River bed. And strong
    Men pushed their poles against the mud
    To guide their boats and gather blood
    Red cloth from Thyatira for
    The fortune ships along the shore
    At Smyrna to the South. The dye
    Was rare, and Roman brass would buy
    A thousand pounds with polished gold.
    And even simple men, who rolled
    The stones to crush the madder root
    For tint, could fill a purple boot
    With profits in a week or two.
    And clever sellers in a few
    Short years could be as rich as kings.

    And such was Lydia. The rings
    She wore were forged in Carthage near
    The coast of Africa. The sheer
    Silk veil was brought from India,
    And made a gift to Lydia
    Three weeks before her husband died.
    She was a wealthy widow now. Beside
    The wealth there was a little child,
    Alert and just a little wild,
    A daughter two years old. Her name
    Was Syntyche which meant the same
    As fortune, good success, or chance.
    The widow never sought romance
    Again. She married purple gold.
    She sailed to distant ports and sold
    Her cloth to Caesarean lords,
    And gathered jewels and Spanish swords
    And crystal balls and magic beans
    And charms and astral figurines,
    And brought them home for Syntyche.

    Ten years went by. The tapestry
    Of Lydia was known throughout
    The world. But no one knew about
    The silent life of Syntyche.
    She missed her mother terribly,
    And sought her missing love in spells,
    In psychic charms and wishing wells,
    In magic moods and special tea,
    With evil men and sorcery.

    When she was twelve she disappeared.
    At first her mother mainly feared
    A ransom note. And then she wept,
    She wept the tears that she had kept
    Inside for years and years, and lay
    Face down alone day after day,
    On Syntyche's small bed. She met
    No one for business deals, and let
    The boats depart, and ate no food,
    Until at last she understood
    What she must do. She rose and took
    Her shawl and found the Kodesh Brook.
    She walked across the narrow log,
    And then straight to the synagogue.
    She found an officer and said,
    “Perhaps my daughter is alive or dead,
    But sir, could someone here teach me
    Of God? I've cried to Him and He
    Has led me here.” And then she told
    Him of her work and how she sold
    Herself to gold and how she lost
    Her fortune, Syntyche.” “High cost
    For cloth,” the teacher said. “I know.
    But is there hope for one as low
    as I?” “You do need teaching ma'am.
    The gracious God of Abraham
    Gives hope to only such as you.
    Now listen, here's what you must do.
    Submit now to the law of God,
    And it may be that Moses' rod
    Will rise again and point the way
    To Syntyche, if you today
    Will burn the charms and figurines
    And crystal balls and magic beans.
    Shall man inquire with pea and pod,
    And not consult the holy God?”

    So Lydia began to fear
    The Lord. Then one long empty year
    Went by. She worshipped week by week,
    But every time she tried to seek
    The face of God it was as though
    A voice would gently say, “I know
    You Lydia, but you do not know me.”
    Then once she asked, “Lord, what
    More may I see, and, Lord, where fly
    To Thee?” And God said, “Philippi.”
    Her mouth fell open at the word.
    “Could I,” she thought, “have really heard
    The voice of God?” And then the doubts
    Were gone. And so was she.
    The routes to Philippi were common fare
    For Lydia. Her business there
    Was good. She owned an ample home
    And often on the way to Rome
    Would stay the night.

    This time one thought
    Alone was in her mind, “God brought
    Me here to Philippi to see his face
    And that is all I need.” The place
    Was well kept by a Jewish maid
    Who secretly for years had prayed
    That Lydia would know the King
    Of heav'n. Euodia would sing
    At night. And Lydia had ears.
    The songs of faith for many years
    Had done more than she knew.

    Once more
    She came, and, entering the door,
    Knelt down before her maid and pled,
    “Euodia, one time you said
    That every Sabbath day you go
    Somewhere to pray. I want to know
    Your God. Tomorrow may I go
    With you? It may be God will show
    Us both our deep desire.”

    At dawn
    The river lay like glass, and on
    The surface was a blazing fire
    As though God made a liquid pyre
    To burn the incense of the prayer
    That holy women offered there.
    And as they prayed a band of men
    Approached and knelt in silence. Then
    The one named Paul began to plead
    That God would satisfy the need
    Of her whose back had felt the rod
    Of his rebuke and wanted God
    More than a hundred laden ships
    Of purple dye. At this the lips
    Of Lydia fell open wide.

    “He knows my heart,” she thought, “my pride,
    My shame. This is a prophet sent
    From God. O, let him now present
    The power of your holy Word,
    And show the glory of the Lord.”
    She opened up her eyes, and all
    The men were fixed on her. Then Paul
    Opened his mouth and said, “The Son
    Of God, the long expected One,
    Has come. His name is Jesus Christ.
    He lived in love and sacrificed
    Himself for sin and rose again
    To live and reign. Five hundred men
    Can testify that he's alive.
    And now with all his might we strive
    To tell the world that everyone
    Who turns from sin and trusts the Son
    Will be forgiven every wrong,
    And sing an everlasting song.
    If God did not withhold the King,
    Will he not give us everything?”

    When Paul had done his human part,
    The Lord himself opened her heart,
    And Lydia believed. They stayed
    The day with her and taught and prayed
    'Til well into the night, then slept
    For free in stately rooms once kept
    For monied merchants and their gold.
    Next morning Lydia was bold
    To ask the men if she could go
    Along to pray. “I think I'd grow
    If I could watch God's power in you.”
    So Paul agreed. “I think that's true,”
    He said, “I sense that we should take
    The market path and slowly make
    Our way down to the place of prayer.”
    But half way through the market square
    A slave girl used for sorcery
    And owned by wicked men broke free.
    And with a rasping voice she screamed:
    “These are the holy men I dreamed
    About. They save your soul. They curse
    Your gold and take away your purse.
    These are the servants of the Most
    High God. Beware! Beware! You host
    Of hell.” They tried to seize their prize
    And pull her back, too late. Their eyes
    Had met. The demon child was frozen in
    The gaze of Lydia. Her chin
    Was locked in speechlessness, a gash
    Was healed along her wrist, a sash
    Of purple cloth held rags around
    Her waist. Her arms and neck were bound
    With bands of charms and magic beans.
    And little astral figurines
    Were pierced through both her ears.
    And Lydia, through burning tears,
    Could see that she was very thin;
    Her eyes were sunken deep within
    Her face as dark and fierce as they
    Could be. Her cheeks were hollow clay,
    And there were bruises everywhere,
    And tiny razors in her hair.
    “O, Syntyche, what have I done?
    What can I do? Where can I run
    To bring you back? O, God above . . .”
    At that the demon tried to shove
    Her mother down, but Paul cried, “NO!
    In Jesus' Name be still. Now go!
    Come out of her you fiendish power.
    And mark, that from this very hour
    You shall not torment Syntyche
    Again.” The power of sorcery
    Was gone. The girl fell at the feet
    Of Lydia. Her face was sweet,
    Her eyes were soft, her voice like dew:
    “Mommy, can I come home with you?”

    The light of candle four is plain,
    It has its part of peace and pain:
    A selfish soul can soon destroy
    A little girl or little boy.
    But Christ can open selfish hearts
    And nullify demonic arts.
    ;)

    By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: http://www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

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