Monday, May 22, 2017

“What Must I Do to Be Saved?” by Melanie Rigney

Rembrandt [Public domain], via 
Wikimedia Commons

About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened, there was suddenly such a severe earthquake that the foundations of the jail shook; all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted out in a loud voice, "Do no harm to yourself; we are all here." He asked for a light 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 and your household will be saved." So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house. He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once. He brought them up into his house and provided a meal and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God. (Acts 16:25-34)

Your right hand saves me, O Lord. (Psalm 138:7c)

Jesus said to his disciples: "Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned." (John 16:5-11)

Build a cell inside your mind, from which you can never flee. — St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church

I’ve been in three noticeable earthquakes in my life. The first occurred on September 9, 1985, while I was on a Chicago el platform; the second, exactly 16 years later while I was in a Los Angeles hotel room (I figured it’d be the biggest memory of that business trip, but obviously, not); the third, in my day job office here in DC on August 23, 2011. I can testify that if you’re not familiar with what to do—stay inside and get under a desk or table—all you want to do is run. Run outside, run downstairs, run anywhere that seems more likely to provide stability. Escape from the shaking and the rolling. Stay putting seems counterintuitive.

What Paul and Silas did when the earthquake hit their jail seems counterintuitive too. Here was what seemed to be a huge God-given evangelization opportunity in escaping: “Look at what He did! He used an earthquake to set us free!”

But they stayed put long enough to take advantage of a smaller, more intimate opportunity: the conversion of the jailer. They talked him out of suicide. They bandaged his wounds. They went to his house… and baptized all the members of his family. The next day, both Paul and Silas were formally released.

Life as a Christian is much like going through a perpetual earthquake. Often, all we want to do is run—from those who persecute us, who ridicule us, who seek to destroy us. Staying put seems counterintuitive. But often, what we are called to do is remain where we are and heal and evangelize in our own families, neighborhoods, parishes, jobs, and other communities. Running is easy. Waiting long enough to discern the Lord’s desire is hard. Staying put may cost us our pride, our money, even our lives. But it is what we are called to do with faith, confident that He has power over all the shaking and rolling.

Identify a spot in your life from which you long to run away to what seems to be safety. Ask the Lord to make clear the way in which He desires you to do His work by staying put.

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