“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.”
Have you ever looked back on a situation and thought, “Oh man, I missed a perfect opportunity!”? Maybe the time for a clever quip, a chance to capitalize on a bargain, or a moment to do something kind ends up in our rear view mirror and the choice is no longer available. It’s understandable when we’re distracted with something else, or other options seem more natural and even reasonable. Wealthy investors credit looking for opportunities that are actually opposite what others are doing. They sell when everyone else is buying and buy when everyone else is selling. Sounds crazy, but it opens up opportunities for them that others don’t see. They are focused on looking for those opportunities because they know they can crop up when least expected.
Paul and Silas were in such a situation. God caused an earthquake to rattle the foundations of the prison where they were being held. I would like to think that I would have enough faith to credit God with the win as I slipped through bent bars or a crack in the wall. I would be praising Him the whole time I was high tailing it to freedom. Only later (probably much later), would I smack my forehead and realize that I had missed an opportunity to save a life other than my own. Fortunately, Paul and Silas were a little quicker on the draw than yours truly. Because of their focus, their immediate response was to act completely opposite of the norm. The jailer awoke and expected every single occupant to be gone. He just knew that his life was over. However, because of Paul and Silas’ knee jerk evangelism, his life was just beginning.
- What had Paul and Silas been doing in prison that might have had them in the right frame of mind to capitalize on their unexpected opportunity?
- What might we glean from that to being poised for chances as they pop up?
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you
Explain – what does the passage mean?
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today?
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?