Daily Devotional, Spiritual Walk

Midnight.

(This is Part 3 of our “go sit: the art of being” devotional series.)

Good morning, peeps!

“Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.” – Acts 16:24-26 KJV

Point #3: being actually positions you for what God wants to do.

This IS the last part of this series. I know sometimes I surprise you and say, “But wait! There’s more!”, but there’s not. This is it, folks, so let’s end this thang with a bang! And that rhymed! I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it! Okay, I’m done. Shall we recap what we’ve learned so far? Let’s.

In Part 1, we talked about how sometimes God allows things to happen just to get you to sit down, just to get you to be. Tell the truth and shame the devil, peeps: for some of us it’s taken a health crisis or loss of a job to get us to be still. Or maybe even heartbreak. That’s the worst. God can get rather creative when He wants to. In our passage, P/S (Paul and Silas) suddenly find themselves locked up. They were just doing what they normally did on a Tuesday. I honestly don’t know what day it was. I’m not THAT bible scholar. You know how it happens: you’ll be in your routine, doing what you normally do and then WHAM! Everything stops and you find your routine halted. And you’re in stocks. Maybe not in actual stocks, but what you’re dealing with is keeping you from moving. You are being forced to be still.

In Part 2, I told you that you have a choice even in that time of being: you can choose to live or to die. You can let the situation conquer you or you can conquer it. I know those dark hours can be paralyzing and sometimes you just give up. I know. I’ve been there plenty of times and slapped a “I’m just surrendering…I’m letting God have His way.” label on it. Are you really? So let’s say you know that God is using a sitch in your life to cause you to sit still. In one of my blogs where I was talking about this battle that we’re fighting, I said that “surrender” and “forfeit” are two different things. If we’re honest, sometimes we just give up – not to God’s Will, but against God’s Will. I’m trying to string my words together to say what I want to say this morning, but it’s not working. I got it: we don’t throw up our hands in surrender, we throw them up and say “I quit.” Look at the P/S sitch. They are in jail. And let’s not forget that they have been beaten like dogs and had their clothes torn off them so their whole bruised behind is sitting on some cold piece of concrete right now.

Please be sure to read this chapter, especially verses 19-22. The accusation, beating, and ripping of their clothes was not done in private. Noooo. That would seem too much like right. This mess was done in front of everybody. They were pulled into the marketplace. This place is huge – imagine the first floor of Mall of America. Well, maybe. So, it’s not small and people are milling about. The accusation was made in front of the impo’tant folks. Ooooooh. The rulers decide that P/S weren’t going to be doin’ any preachin’ and deliverin’ on their block, so now it’s time to punish them. Now. I’d get it if the ones who were beating P/S were the accusers and the rulers. But in verse 22 it says that the multitude rose up together against them. Who are y’all? This has nothing to do with you!! This is an A and B conversation…C your way out! Well, that’s what I would’ve said. P/S probably hadn’t heard of that smart comeback yet. So, they’re beaten, clothes torn and thrown into the inner prison.


Author’s note: God just did it again. So, consider this Part 2.5 because this has just turned into an extension of Part 2 and we are still on Point #2 which was “being does not mean not being”. Don’t look at me. God did this.


“And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” – Acts 16:23-25

So P/S have been beaten, clothes torn and are now thrown in jail. I mean, prison. I keep saying ‘jail’, but this is prison. I know a few people who used to live there – there is a difference. It’s rough and it’s basically were hope goes to die. I was told by one that when he knew he was going to prison, he gave up. Like, literally gave up. The hope of ever living a normal life was not only gone, but the desire to live left, too. The day-to-day of being in prison was enough to drive a grown man insane, but even that didn’t hold a candle to being placed in solitary confinement. Oh my God. Yeah, I said it. The way he described it…I can’t even repeat it. Look at where they put P/S: in the inner prison. In the inner prison. They were away from the other prisoners. It was the same-ish as solitary confinement. So, here we are at midnight and these two bruthas are praying and singing. Where they found the desire to do that, I don’t know. It takes a lot to sing praises unto God when you are hurting. What’s that one scripture say, “a sacrifice of praise”? Honey chile! Let me tell you! Sometimes, it’s taken all I have to praise God.

There was a time when praising God was all I had…

Years ago, I was at my lowest place. I have never been so low. I was at the midnight of midnights. I’d been hurt by people whom I put in the place of God and that devastated me so I left the church and ran into a world of sin. I went so far into the world that I didn’t even recognize myself. I’ve told you before that I am a singer, didn’t I? Well, I am and I would sing all of the time. It didn’t matter where I was. I could be at the store, at work, at the gym (that was rare – the gym part) or in my car. There wasn’t a day that I wasn’t singing to God. That was my routine before my midnight. Now, things in my life before weren’t always sunny, but geez. They weren’t midnight-dark. It had gotten so dark that I wanted to die. I remember praying and asking God to kill me in my sleep. This ain’t the prayers P/S were praying. Different type of prayers, folks. Different type of prayers. I did. I asked God to let me die in my sleep. It was just too much. Prior to that, I hadn’t prayed to God in a minute. I’m talking years. And I shol wasn’t singing. God and I hadn’t been on speaking terms for a long, long time. I’m sure God had been speaking to me, but I wasn’t responding. For two reasons. One, I thought He hated me and two, I was too ashamed to respond. So I didn’t. You know what this did? It thrust me farther into the inner part of the prison I was in. At my midnight, I cried out to God, “Please let me die in my sleep!” I even ended my prayers with The Lord’s Prayer, ya know, to make it legit. When I woke up the next morning, I was mad. I was alive and still in prison. Man! I was so mad at God and I told Him every night after that. Sure did. Every night I would complain-pray about how He couldn’t do the simplest thing. I mean, how hard is it to stop a heart from beating? I was still sinning, too. As a matter of fact, I upped it. I was really sinning. Still, God would wake me up every morning. And I would be ticked.

Months later, I was cleaning up and something weird happened. Weird things happen at midnight, folks. I had just resigned to the thought of “this is just how it’s going to be.” I had stopped talking to God again, but He hadn’t stopped talking to me. He was getting on my nerves. The way I saw it, if He wasn’t going to get me out of this prison, we had nothing else to say. Apparently, I did have something to say. If you are wondering why I remember this so vividly, it is because this day changed my life forever. I was cleaning and all of a sudden I heard this:

Something beautiful ~ something good ~ all of my confusion, HE understood ~ and all I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife ~ but He made something, beautiful, out of my life

I stopped in my tracks. I remember it, ooooooh, like it just happened two seconds ago. I stood there, staring at the duster in my hand. What in the world?? Then the song started back up again, but it was louder this time…

Something beautiful ~ something good ~ all of my confusion, HE understood ~ and all I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife ~ but He made something, beautiful, out of my life

This time, I walked over to the mirror on the wall and stared at it. I felt like the Grinch when he said “What is this?? I’m leaking!”, as he discovers tears running down his face. I stared at myself and watched the tears running down my face as my mouth moved. I was singing. I was singing those words. Scared the mess out of me! How do you catch yourself off-guard?? And I sounded good, too. I just stood there – I probably dropped the duster – and belted that song out to the broken woman in the mirror. Over and over, I sang those words.

Something beautiful ~ something good ~ all of my confusion, HE understood ~ and all I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife ~ but He made something, beautiful, out of my life

I was singing…in my prison…at midnight.

–d.

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