The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Acts 16:16-40 tells us of a very odd sequence of events. You never know what actions will lead to other events. Here, Paul and his companions were in Philippi because they had gone to Macedonia in response to a vision. After having met Lydia at the river bank, they were staying with her household. In the course of their activities, a young lady who is indwelt by an evil spirit has begun following them, proclaiming that they are speaking of the power of God. This is accurate, but Paul does not allow it. The young lady is tormented by an evil spirit. He casts t he spirit out and the young lady, though no longer tormented, is also of no use to her employers. They, in turn, arrange for Paul and Silas to be arrested. If that isn’t enough of a plot twist, while Paul and Silas are singing hymns in the jail at night, God arranges an earthquake which would free them and all the other prisoners. They do not escape, which saves the jailer’s life. They do teach about Jesus, which saves the jailer’s whole household. When, in gratitude, the jailer is going to send them away, they refuse to go quietly because, counter to Roman law, they had been beaten without an appropriate condemnation.
All this happened because Paul had a vision of a man in Macedonia asking for help.
When we look back at our lives, we often see a hopelessly tangled web of events. We have done this, said that, gone here, stayed there. Many of those events seem quite trivial. But the Lord uses each and every one according to his plan. Sometimes they lead to strikingly obvious outcomes. Sometimes we may remain oblivious of the outcome. Regardless, we can know that the Lord of all is using us in our community for his good.
There’s something to think about next time you’re in prison in the middle of the night and you feel an earthquake.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.