(This is Part 2 of our “go sit: the art of being” devotional series.)
Good morning, peeps!
Let us begin with our excerpt from the book of Acts. (Do me a favor. Say that like an old preacher. “Let ahss beginnn with ow-wuh excerp-t frahm the book of Aahctssssuh.”)
“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
So P/S (Paul and Silas) have been jailed for preaching the Gospel. Please realize that is what’s going on here. They weren’t streaking through the park – they were preaching the Gospel. [Side bar: don’t always assume the worst about folks when they fall on hard times. “Oh. God must be getting them for some kind of sin.” What if they’ve fallen on hard times as a result of doing the right thing? Hmm? Ever thought about that? And besides, streaking isn’t a sin. It’s just…eww.] In Mark 16:15, Jesus said (to them), “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” That’s what P/S were doing. And it landed them in jail. This just wasn’t their day…or was it? This wasn’t bad luck. This wasn’t a “oh well” sitch. Naw. This was a “oh yeah” sitch. It was a divine assignment.
Being does not mean not being.
In the excerpt, take note of what P/S were doing. Wait. One thing, first: let’s make these two men human, shall we? Paul was the baddest apostle that ever lived. We’re not debating that. The way that man sold out for God…whew! Just amazing. And let’s not forget Silas. He was not a Robin to Paul’s Batman. Silas was an elder that accompanied Paul on several evangelic endeavors and he was doing the same preaching and healing as Paul. I gave you all of that to bring us back to “let’s make these two men human”. Why do we read about great men and women in the faith and totally discount any fears or doubts that they could’ve had? They were human-people. I know that reads crazy, but I thought it was funny. Human-people…hee hee! Yes, yes, yes, Paul did say, “To live is Christ; to die is gain”, but that’s all the way in Philippians. We’re in Acts, at the beginning of his ministry. There are five books between Acts and Philippians. I don’t know how many years passed between this situation and his declaration to the church at Philippi (Philippians 1:21), but do know that it took some years and possibly a few more stints in the slammer to get that mindset.
Okay, they should be good and human now. So we have a couple of humans sitting in jail, knowing full-well that the punishment for going against Roman law ain’t something you’d want to write on a “wish you were here” postcard. They were already beaten and now here they are…sitting…being forced to be still…in jail. Everything hurts and their clothes have been torn and there’s nothing but silence all around them. Their circumstance looks bleak, doesn’t it? I’m sure we’ve all had some bleak situations where we wondered “what’s the point of even being here?” This is where that question comes in: “to be or not to be” or what that expression really means, “is it better to live or to die”? The choice is really left up to you. P/S, in all of this, decided to live.
And at midnight, they start praying and singing.
I’ve always heard that midnight is the darkest hour of the night. I hope you caught that! I am bouncing on this kitchen stool again!! The preacher is coming out of me! “I don’t think you hurrrrd me! I said-duh, “Midnight is the darkest hour of the night! And Paul and Silas are praying and singing!” I don’t know what time of day they were thrown in jail, but it wasn’t at midnight. There was some time that passed – enough time for them to think about their plight, moan and groan from the pain of their beatings, and take in all that their lovely surroundings had to offer. And yet, in the darkest hour of night, as they are being forced to be still, they start praying and singing.
How easy is it to pray and sing when you’re being forced to be still? For me, it’s been hard. And I’m talking real prayer and real praise, not my canned stuff. Let’s keep it all the way 100 this morning. I got you on the praying and singing tip when everything is sunny and bright in my life and I’m moving around doing what I want to do. Call on me – I’m your girl. But when I’m being made to be still, I find it hard to genuinely pray and sing. Don’t even get me started on the darkest hour deal. I won’t be squeaking out one word. You will find me just sitting there, blinking in the dark. But not P/S. After they got over “Oh well. This is where we’re at”, it became “Oh yeah! This is where we’re at!” They decided to be in their being. I’d like to think they had voices like Paul Robeson, deep and robust. Please don’t tell me they sounded like PeeWee Herman. That would totally ruin it for me. So, imagine sitting there next to them in jail, in the dark, and all of a sudden you hear a deep voice praying,
“Oh Heavenly Father, we thank You. You are great and worthy to be praised. Thank you for these stocks. Thank you. It is not what we wanted, but You know we needed to be still for a moment. And I’m not even going to fix my mouth to say ‘I wish it could’ve happened a different way.’ Lord, oh Almighty God, You know all things. And I know that this isn’t just about me. You know that on my own, I wouldn’t have done anything to get myself in this predicament, but this is a divine assignment. I need to be still so that You can minister to me. I needed to be still so that I can just be and even in that being, You still call me deeper. You call me higher because someone needs a visitation from You. And it will be through me. I am blessed to be the one You are going to use. Amen.”
Holy Spirit you are welcome here ~ come flood this place and fill the atmosphere ~ your glory God is what my heart longs for ~ to be overcome by your presence, Lord
Have a great day, peeps.