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27 When the jailer, startled out of his sleep, saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was on the point of killing himself, because he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, Do not harm yourself, for we are all here! 29 Then [the jailer] called for lights and rushed in, and trembling and terrified he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out [of the dungeon] and said, Men, what is it necessary for me to do that I may be saved? 31 And they answered, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping] and you will be saved, [and this applies both to] you and your household as well. 32 And they declared the Word of the Lord [the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] to him and to all who were in his house. Acts 16: 27 – 32 AMPC
Paul, Silas and the other prisoners stayed even after they were physically free to go. Earlier in the story, there was an earthquake, all the doors opened and everyone’s shackles were undone. They had no apparent reason to stay. The things that once physically held them bound were no longer there. Why didn’t they run out? When we realize that our freedom isn’t dictated by our physical circumstances, it changes everything. Our freedom has been bought by the blood of Jesus. This understanding enables us to remain in previously unbearable circumstances with joy, until God’s appointed time for us to leave. We’re able to yield to God’s plan instead of trying to rush out of difficulties. Then God is able to use our unusual response to hardship to draw people to Himself.
Realizing that Paul and Silas were still there, the jailer immediately wanted to know how he could be saved. Paul and Silas were able to point the jailer to Jesus. They told him to do as they had done. “Take yourself out of your own keeping”, they said, “and entrust yourself into His keeping”. Paul and Silas had entrusted themselves to God. They knew He would take care of them, even in prison. Prison walls can’t stop God’s goodness and mercy. Shackles can’t stop you when God is ready to move you into a new season. But even more importantly, we must know that the same God who is faithful in times of prosperity. Whose nearness we speak of with such certainty when everything is going as we’d like. That same God is with us in the prison. Just as He was with Daniel in the lion’s den. As He was with the three Israelite boys in the fire. As He was with Joseph in the pit. So will He also we with us, no matter what we face.
Had Paul and Silas run out of the prison, they would have missed the opportunity to lead the jailer and his whole family to Christ. To share the gospel with them. Sometimes the places where we feel bound are the very places God wants to use us to minister reconciliation and freedom. May we be reminded today of God’s faithfulness, even in our trials. I pray God give us the strength to wait on His timing instead of running from adversity. May we avail ourselves to be used for His glory. Look for where He’s working. May we be on mission, no matter what our prison looks like. To minister freedom to the captives around us. And may we know that in every way that truly counts, we have already been made free by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
Love & Blessings,