Week of Monday, October 11 – Sunday, October 17
When God Calls an Audible – Man as a Chaplain

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went.” — Acts 8:26-27

Roger Staubach won the Heisman Trophy way back in 1963 and then served in the U.S. Navy. After completing a tour of duty in Vietnam, Staubach had a storied 11-year career as quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He was named to the Pro Bowl six times. During his tenure as quarterback, the Cowboys won two Super Bowls, and one of those victories earned Staubach the award of Super Bowl MVP. Now a Hall of Famer, Roger Staubach is still considered one of the best quarterbacks of all time.[1]

Considering Roger Staubach’s leadership and success on and off the field, it might seem strange that he didn’t call his own plays. It is said that his coach, Tom Landry, sent in every play. Staubach had a choice. He could obey the instructions of his coach, or he could choose to ignore him and lean on his own knowledge to make decisions during the game.[2] Obviously, he submitted to his coach and he came out a winner.

Philip was a guy who had experienced success in life, too. His wasn’t in the military or on the football field; it was in ministry. He was serving the Lord and seeing some good success, preaching to big crowds in Samaria (8:5-8). He was involved in a growing ministry. Everyone listened to what he said and great things were happening. There was a city-wide movement to Christ. And it was in this context that God called an audible.

An angel of the Lord told Philip to leave the city where God was moving in a powerful way and travel on a road heading down to the desert instead. Why didn’t Philip ask any questions? Why didn’t he make a pros and cons list for staying and going? Acts 8:27 tells us Philip just got up and went, no questions asked, and it was simply because that’s what God told him to do. He had very few details, but he was willing, and he obeyed. As a result, the Lord used Philip powerfully in the life of an Ethiopian official. He gave his life to Christ and Philip baptized him on the side of the road. It was an unlikely encounter, except for the fact that God planned it. Oh, and that new convert? He went back and shared the gospel with the people in his country, and today we look back and realize that was the beginnings of the famed Coptic church! Isn’t God amazing?!
The Bible also tells us the story of a man who did just the opposite of what Philip did, and that man was Jonah. When told to go to the city of Nineveh where there were many unbelievers, Jonah was reluctant and wound up in the belly of a large fish. Will you go when called? When asked to join the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., I was more like Jonah until the Lord made it clear through my wife that I was being called to go back to the nation’s capital to be a part of FRC. How would you like for the Lord to speak to you through your wife when you are being stubborn? Be more like Philip and go when the Lord calls.
Sometimes, fulfilling our role as a chaplain requires that we act immediately. It won’t always make sense. We might think there’s a better “play” we should run. But we must remember our role on God’s “team” and acknowledge His authority to call the shots and make the decisions. He wants to use us in unexpected ways to win others to Him, so we must surrender our best plans to His perfect ones. When we do, the reasons will become clear. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. So, when God calls an audible, run His play.

  • Do you recall a time when God had you go somewhere or do something that didn’t make sense but afterward it became clear?
  • What keeps you from being more like Philip in the quickness of your response of obedience to the calls God makes on your life each day?
  • Thank God for using ordinary believers like us to do extraordinary things. Ask Him to help you learn to hear the Holy Spirit’s prompting and obey it without hesitation. Ask Him to help you be ready to speak His name to people who don’t yet know Him.
[1] “Roger Staubach,” The U.S. Naval Academy, accessed September 10, 2021,
[2] “Following Orders,” Ministry127, accessed September 10, 2021, https://ministry127.com/resources/illustration/following-orders.