We have been spending a LOT of time in our house… what am I saying? We’ve been spending ALL of our time in our house. I wrote last week about our mandatory quarantine because my hubby and I were both positive for Covid-19. When you’re an introvert and can’t get away from your kids. And you have a sick husband. And it rains for most of the week. No house is quite big enough! Ha!
I’m writing this early in the week. Most of us get to break outta here on Thursday. HALLELUJAH! My oldest daughter has to quarantine for two more weeks. Which means that this Mama will be home for two more weeks too. I’m not going to lie, I have felt like a prisoner in my own house. I have stuff to do and don’t have time to sit at home for a month. We missed my grandpa’s funeral this past week and can’t have a party for my little one turning 5. Sorry, I know that sounds whiny. I’m just giving you a glimpse into my week so you can see how cool this perspective shift was. The Lord is good at challenging me. I came to Him complaining about ALL THE THINGS and really wanted Him to join me in my pity party. He refused. (Rude!)
Instead, He told me to look up the story of Paul and Silas worshipping in prison. I encourage you to read it- it’s found in Acts 16:16-40. I’ve written out the second half of the story but here is my shorter version of the beginning: Paul and Silas casted a demon out of a little girl who told people their fortunes. The girl made her masters quite a bit of money in the process. So they were very angry when they lost that significant source of income. They took Paul and Silas before the police and accused them of making a ruckus. Then they were beaten and thrown into jail.
“Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, ‘Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!’
The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?‘
They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.’ And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God,” (Acts 16:25-34 NLT).
This week is all about encouraging you to worship God right in the middle of your mess. There is so much that we could unpack in this story but I want us to dig into the characters.
The little girl – Paul and Silas set a little girl free who was captive to a demonic spirit. She was also a slave to her masters (verse 16) who were supposed to care for and protect her. Instead they manipulated her for their financial gain. The girl was bound. Jesus set her free.
Paul and Silas – Instead of seeing her freedom as a blessing, the girl’s masters accused Paul and Silas of causing an uproar. The whole village then turned on these men of God. They were beaten, chained, and thrown into the inner part of the prison. It reminds me of the way Jesus was treated before His death.
Most commentators believe that the inner prison was devoid of light and ventilation. Prisoners would be shrouded in darkness and overwhelmed by the stench of their fellow inmates. Furthermore, Paul and Silas were chained in their cell. Commentators differ on opinion here. This could have been a large piece of timber that there feet were attached to or, it could have been the stocks. In which case their head, feet, and hands would have been bound, and they would have been unable to move. In fact, the word for “timber” here is the same word that is used for the cross that Roman soldiers nailed Jesus to. So, either way, it was a form of torture. Paul and Silas were captives. Jesus set them free.
The other prisoners – Paul and Silas choose to worship, right in the middle of jail, with no fear of who was listening. God sent an earthquake and opened EVERY cell door. What did Paul and Silas have to do/say to convince a bunch of criminals not to leave their cells? These guys were captives because of their own choices. They would have spent every single day dreaming about their freedom. Now the possibility was right in front of them and they stayed put?! I’m not sure what happened to the prisoners after the jailer took Paul and Silas to his home. But Jesus could have chosen not to open their prison doors or remove their chains, but He didn’t. They were bound. Jesus set them free too.
The jailer – He was in his own kind of bondage. When he saw the open cell doors, he immediately assumed that he was a failure and was ready to kill himself. Paul stopped him and he immediately wanted to be saved and baptized. The jailer was bound. Jesus set him and his entire family free.
Do you see the common denominator here? Regardless of what is trying to hold us captive, (whether it be our own choices, or the effects of other people’s sin), Jesus is here to set us free. He loves to remove our chains and open locked prison doors for us.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound,” (Isaiah 61:1 ESV).
“The oppressed get justice with you.
The hungry are satisfied with you.
Prisoners find their freedom with you,” (Psalm 146:7 TPT).
My stinky attitude about being a prisoner in my home is just that- a stinky attitude that Jesus wants to set me free from. If Paul and Silas can worship God in prison after being publicly beaten, then surely I can worship Him at home! What if this quarantine isn’t a prison? What if this is meant to be a sweet time to make memories with my amazing hubby and babies? What if God is using this time to fill me up before I’m sent back out into the world? What if I miss what He is trying to do because instead of worshipping, I spend the whole time complaining?
What is trying to imprison you? Unhealthy relationships? Financial struggles? Unhelpful attitudes? Even if it feels like the deepest, darkest dungeon, Jesus is the answer and He is worthy of our worship.
Paul and Silas were set free while they worshipped. They didn’t know that was going to happen – they had just been beaten and could have been killed the next day. But they choose to boldly declare the goodness of God anyway. The benefits of their praise trickled down and blessed every single person around them. What could our worship accomplish?
No matter our circumstances, God is worthy of our worship. Worship takes our eyes off of the mess we find ourselves in and onto the goodness of God. He can handle our situations when we drop them off at His feet and focus on how great He is. Let’s worship our way toward freedom!
P.S. This song by Cody Carnes will help set you free if you’re dealing with a stinky attitude: Nothing Else!