Monday, March 7, 2011

Is Digging Deeper Using Imagination

What a POWERFUL story!

Did you go through each verse from Acts 16:16 through the end of the chapter? Did you journal down the who, what, when, where, why? Did anything prompt you to search out more information? Did a term make you dig deeper into its meaning?

In small group Sunday morning, we dissected each verse looking at it as if it was the first time we had ever laid eyes on it. Then we went through it again using our imagination.

In some verses I put myself in the shoes of a spectator, someone in the crowd. I imagine myself being somewhere like a revival when I get distracted by one person. Being ADHD, this is really nothing new, but this girl gets a lot of attention from everyone around us. This same girl is persistent showing up day after day repeating the same thing over and over again. She is yelling truth, but I see that it is causing concern to the teacher, and he rebukes the spirit within the girl. The change is instant. It’s the kind of thing that makes the hair on your arm stand up on end, goose bumps.

I’m still in the crowd as they seize Paul and Silus, take them before the magistrate on some trumped up charge. I know that Paul and Silas have been beaten and wrongfully accused, but the tension of the crowd is thick, and they are demanding justice. Part of me is fearful because I don’t like crowds. I’m clostrophic, and the crowd is getting riotous.

Then I imagine I’m in the Roman prison. There is minimal to no light penetrating the dark. I smell rotting flesh, probably urine. I hear rats that come out to nibble on those who are confined. This is the existence day and night. There is moaning and wailing from those who have recently been flogged, beaten or mutilated, but tonight…tonight is different. In the still of the night, I think I’m hallucinating because I hear music. I hear someone singing, no make that two people singing songs of praise and worship. I can’t see the, but I heard the rumors about them. They were flogged earlier today and are bound in an inner cell under high security – not sure what they’ve done, why they’re here or why they need heightened security, but the singing is coming from their direction. (What song would you be singing if you were sitting in this condition and under these circumstances? I’d want to sing “My chains are gone. I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood, His mercy rains unending love, amazing grace.”)

Then it happened. It shook me to my very soul…an earthquake unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It was so violent it rattled the doors of the cells opened. I heard it even knocked the chains off of the two fellows in that center cell. It jarred me so much I feared for my life. I couldn’t run. I didn’t know what to do, and just as the jailer was about to take his life, a voice from the inner cell told him we were all still safely in our cells. The jailer brought his light, and it shown brightly in my face. If I thought I was panic-stricken, he had me beat. He was white as a ghost. He shut the cells again, and then I heard talking. I heard them talking about a Savior.

This is such an intense story, but so often we glaze right over it because we’ve read it so many times. We think we know what to expect.

When I reread this passage of Scripture as if it were a love letter from God to me, I ask Him to show me what He wants me to glean from studying this passage, from meditating on it, and from rereading it. For me, God points out that Paul and Silas were doing His work. They were doing exactly what He led them to do, what He equipped them to do and what He empowered them to do. My question then becomes, “Then why was their teaching derailed? What’s the point? They were winning people for Christ and educating the body of Christ – all good things for the kingdom. And yet, God allowed them to be yanked from what they were doing, be wrongfully imprisoned and for what? A DIVINE APPOINTMENT.

Sometimes He removes of us from what we know to put us in a most uncomfortable place to grow us and because if He didn’t allow us to get to this uncomfortable place we would have never voluntarily gone. Thereby, we would miss out on a DIVINE APPOINTMENT.

I’ve been beaten up, bruised, battered in ministry and in the world. I’ve also been perfectly happy serving God when He has removed me from a situation to put me in another. Sitting in the dark (literally or figuratively), Paul and Silas sang songs of praise. People were listening. People they didn’t know. People were watching. As a result of being put into a most uncomfortable position, Paul and Silas made their DIVINE APPOINTMENT, and a jailer and his complete household were saved.

Next time I’m beaten, battered and in the dark, I pray that I can sing and look for that DIVINE APPOINTMENT.

Here's to digging deeper!

YOUR FAITHWORK FOR THE WEEK: John 2:1-11 -- Pray. Read the Scripture through in its entirety. Read through again and journal the answers to questions for every verse. Read it in a different translation. Check out terms. Use your imagination.

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