Friday, January 30, 2009

Paul, Silas and the jailor

This morning I read about Paul and Silas in prison in Acts 16. They've been stripped, beaten and flogged, because they drove a demon out of a slave girl thereby reducing her value to her owner (she was a fortune teller). BTW, she had been following them around for days yelling out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved!" Can you imagine this picture? It must have been driving them crazy, not only what she was doing, but the knowledge that she was a slave to more than one master... earthly and demon. And what about the demon? Was it compelled to announce what it knew? Did it have her doing this on purpose, to get Paul and Silas into trouble?

Anyway, they've been stripped and severely beaten and thrown into the middle of the jail with their feet in stocks. It's midnight. They are praying and singing hymns to God. What is up with that? It's been a long day, you'd think they'd be tired... how often am I too tired to pray or sing hymns? I might be praying silently, but they were praying together, aloud, singing, the other prisoners are listening... and there is a violent earthquake and everyone's chains fall off and the locked doors spring open. But do they run away? Nope. The jailer is on the verge of suicide, assuming they escaped, but they call out to him. In he rushes, with these glorious words, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" The man had been listening to them, and he knew life when he saw it. Right then he became a believer, he took them out of jail and into his home, he cared for their wounds (remember, they had been severely flogged), apparently woke his whole family (although the earthquake may have done that), and they all were baptized. Then they sat down to eat a meal... remember, the earthquake happened at midnight, so this is really late. And then come some of my favorite words, "he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God - he and his whole family."

I want that faith. The faith of Paul and Silas that prays aloud and sings hymns in the worst of circumstances at the end of all human physical strength. The faith that witnesses to those who hurt and harm me and accepts them into the family of God. The faith that really doesn't worry about tomorrow because it knows that God has tomorrow under control. And the faith of the jailer, who immediately did what was right. And I want the joy that God gave to these men. Lord, give me faith!
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