And at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God; and the prisoners were listening to them. And suddenly there occurred a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and the bonds of all were loosed. [Acts 16:25-26]
The world didn’t want to tolerate followers of Jesus Christ. Paul and Silas were publicly beaten with rods then locked up in chains and cast into prison for doing the work of the Lord. They were unsure of their outcome but even in their dejected predicament, they continued to praise the Lord, praying and chanting hymns. And in their faithfulness, the Earth quaked and released their imprisonment without collapsing the prison walls in on them. And if that was not enough, the jailer after seeing all these miracles asked to be saved. And so he and his whole family were baptized, men, women, children and servants!
What seemed to be an impossible circumstance became an opportunity to share the love of God, bringing the lost into the Light. Isn’t it better to fail at succeeding than to succeed in failing? Why not expect good things to happen even when things seem impossible? Doesn’t St. James say that everything good comes from above? (Jas 1:17) Paul knew his time on Earth was short but he chose to press on, no matter the cost! Paul and Silas clinged to the truth, the life and the way. (John 14:6) When you have something that great, you want to share it! You have to let the love of Christ ooze out from you like fog rolling through the valley!
Most of us seem to get weighted down when our burdens seem heavy. Prayers become an unwanted task as we feel abandoned and self pity becomes a heavy familiar friend as we imprison ourselves by our own lack of faith. Our eyes turn from the Light and look for isolation in our darkness. “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matt 8:26)
A great friend and protestant pastor who inspired me to change would quote from John Wesley and say to me: “Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” Orthodox folks call that radiant consuming passion incorruptible joy! A burning fire rooted deep in the crevices of everything that we are! In his letter to the church in Philippians, Saint Paul writes: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”(Phil 4:4-7)
Be about your Father’s Business! (Luke 2:49) Everything That Is, Is His! Are You? What in the WORLD is more important?
Fr. Gabriel Weller 5/13/18