[NOTE: We’ll return to a Mondays-only format beginning next week.]
Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. — Acts 16:25
One of the most counter-intuitive scenes in the Bible is that of imprisoned Paul and Silas, beaten and bloodied, singing a “robust” hymn to God. Praising, smiling, while their bodies ache and bleed and they’re not sure if they’re going to live another day.
My reaction would be nursing wounds, both outer and inner, and strategizing about how I can get out of this mess. Wouldn’t that be more normal?
However, they were looking at things from a different perspective. They were living with a purpose, understanding their lives weren’t their own. They’d signed up to live asking the question in whatever circumstance, “What’s Jesus going to do next?”
That gave them the remarkable ability to lighten up instead of tightening up.
At the beginning of an eight o’clock service many years ago, half asleep while giving announcements, I caught movement out the corner of my eye. It was a mouse, skittering in front of a pew, then stopping in the middle of the aisle in front of me. He perched on his haunches as if he wanted to hear when the next potluck was.
I simply stopped and looked at him. “Well, we have a church mouse visiting today.” A few moments later, as he made his way out, he dashed over the foot of a member. She didn’t exactly shout, “Amen.”
Taking in this scene, I heard an inner voice. “Greg, lighten up. It doesn’t depend on you, but on me. Relax a little, and enjoy the service.”
Life throws situations at us where there’s no escape. It’s easy to feel that way right now when we hear the word “pandemic” multiple times every day. We simply have to tighten our grip, clench our teeth, make adjustments and sacrifices, and go through them. However, we also hope in the one who emerged on the other side of the cross. In the midst of it all, there will be a moment of clarity. It’s the realization that life is a panorama, never just one small scene.
We’re following Someone who looks at life from the Resurrection vista, not the crucifixion.
May we have the grace to lighten up when we’re in jail. There’s always a mouse in the house.