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The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison.
We all know what happens next. God rescues Peter out of the heart of a giant fortress. I love it that God doesn’t have to do things the way we expect him to. I love it that God can rescue us in ways that we never thought possible. I say that now and you nod your heads, but we both know that sometimes it’s really nerve racking and we don’t always take it well. Life is supposed to follow certain rules, right? Things are supposed to happen according to logic, right?
When we read this story we don’t expect Peter to be freed in the middle of the night. God was supposed to have Herod release Peter after the trial. That was what the church was most likely praying about. Peter should have stood before Herod and presented a defense of the Gospel that would confound the king so much that he would be released to freedom. It was ludicrous to think that God would orchestrate a prison escape instead. We underestimate God sometimes, don’t we? We expect him to act within our own world of rules and, in the same way, we constrict our prayer. God is not bound by the laws of physics or any other thing that humanity has thought up. God is a rescuer and a deliverer and is hardly going to let one of us go because the laws of nature say it can’t be done.
Faith is trusting God’s provision, God’s timing, God’s plan, God’s means of deliverance. Faith goes beyond human understanding and leaps into a realm where “normal” is redefined. Think of what could happen if we all prayed like we understood that. No, no… not us. Too many times we pray like the church was praying for Peter. Get the picture clearly — the church has been desperately praying for the deliverance of Peter, knowing already that James is dead. So Peter knocks at the door of the prayer meeting (in other words, their prayer is answered), speaks to a servant girl who recognizes his voice and goes back to announce, “Peter is at the door!” And what, pray tell, is the response of this faithful praying church? “You are out of your mind.” The word is mainly meaning “You are a maniac.”
How often do we pray with such intentions? “Oh God will take care of this….. (yea, right)” We cannot ever forget that God is a deliverer. He is a rescuer. The power of the blood of Christ is no more bound to logic than God himself and, if you want your salvation, if you want redemption, or if you just need a little rescuing, you can have it.
Give God a chance to be your rescuer. And for those believers out there who fit the bill of the early church I just described, stop letting God be confined in the little box we call “ordinary.” Let God loose in your life and see where he takes you.
Don’t forget to bring the kids out to Trunk-Or-Treat at the Methodist Church here in Carrollton on Halloween night from 6-8 p.m. We will have lots of candy, hot chocolate, and other goodies for both the adults and the children. We will be set up in the parking lot behind the church just off of Fourth Street. See you then.
The Rev. Drew Oakley is pastor of Carrollton United Methodist Church in Carrollton, Ky.