Thursday, February 7, 2013

PEACE -- Some People Are Filled with the Spirit. Some Have to Be Slapped.

My first born was an atypical baby. She rarely fussed. She could sleep through the loudest of events. She wasn’t afraid of loud things which was good because we lived in Belton and from time to time we could hear artillery rounds being shot down in Killeen at the army base. Some were so loud it felt like the house vibrated. When she woke up, she was as happy as happy could be. She would fall asleep in her car seat and wake up some place new with different faces, and she was thrilled. I say these things not bragging because that was nothing of my doing. That’s just the way she came. She started sleeping 4 hours the first few days after birth and immediately went to six. Within the month, she was sleeping eight hours at night. That baby loved her sleep.

I love a really good sleep session. You know the kind when the alarm goes off and the moment right before it goes off you don’t even know the world exists – that kind of sleep. I love Sunday afternoon naps. I love to sleep on rainy and cold days. But I don’t always have the most restful slumber. You see, I have this husband, and as my youngest niece will tell you, he snores really loud. I also have a son that at the first collapse of thunder is under my covers. Plus, sometimes we have stressors that inhibit us from falling to sleep or staying asleep. I hate that.

Also, I’m light sensitive…if there is such a thing. If the sun breaks into my room or a light slips under the door, my eyes pop open. Patrick says I make him sleep in a bat cave. I have to have it completely dark. Weird, I know.

In Acts 12 is a story about Peter being arrested by King Herod. Peter’s thrown in prison chained to two guards one on each side and another set at the door to his cell. When I taught this before I encourage the ladies to put themselves in the shoes of Peter. There wasn’t electricity. No flushing toilets. The men didn’t get baths. It’s pitch dark. Men who have been beaten that day are moaning. There’s probably the smell of rotten flesh from the bodies of men who had been beaten previously. And if I were to go further, I bet there are rats. So with all the sounds, odors, and commotion, Peter falls asleep knowing the King Herod plans on putting him on trial and having him killed. Personally, when I put myself in Peter’s sandals, I see myself wiggin’ out, freaked out, stressed out. I can’t even begin to imagine sleeping much less sleeping soundly.

One more thing to consider, Peter had been imprisoned for part of week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He wasn’t there just overnight. He had been there several nights. People were praying for him all this time. Why didn’t God rescue Peter the first night? Why make him suffer longer? I promise you whatever God’s reasoning he used every bit of it to bring glory to himself, to mature believers in their walk, and to work it out for Peter’s good. Don’t you know that every set of soldiers who got chained up to him heard about Jesus? Don’t you know that every one of them was told to repent!? God has a reason and a purpose for every uncomfortable place he allows us to sit in, so figure out what it is! Just sayin’.

Not only was Peter able to fall asleep but when the angel of the Lord shows up all shining and bright, the angel has to strike Peter to wake him up. That my friend is a man who has the spiritual fruit of peace. Peter’s life was in a stressful, precarious situation, and he was at peace. Why was he at peace? Reminds me of the song with the lyrics, When I’m windswept and battered I will cling to the cross, and will find peace in the midst of the storm. There’s an anchor. There’s a rock to which I cling upon. For Jesus rides in my vessel so I fear no alarm. He gives me peace in the midst of the storm. Peter knew who had him. Philippians 4:7 says, And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ.

Peace. It’s a fruit that the Holy Spirit gives. People are watching you when you are going through the rockiest storms in your life. You don’t always know everyone who is watching, but they are. Do they see peace? Do they see you looking to God? With Peter in the jail were the two guards chained to him and the two standing guard at the door of his cell. Do you think they noticed the fact that Peter went fast asleep? I promise you those soldiers knew what was going to happen to Peter, and how could they not see Peter sleeping like a baby?

Acts 12 really is an amazing story. If you haven’t read it in a while, I encourage you to take the time to do so. Read it in several translations. Put yourself in Peter’s sandals, the guards’ shoes, and poor Rhoda’s slippers. The Word is alive. Read it as such.

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