Sleeping in Prison

Have you ever been in a stressful situation, but felt completely calm in the middle of it? My dad tells a story of when I was playing baseball, I was going to start a pretty big game. As I was taking my warm up pitches, I was casually blowing bubbles with my bubble gum on the mound. It didn’t matter if I was in mid-wind up or actually throwing the ball. He always says that is how he knew that I was relaxed, and that I would have a good game that night. I’m happy I seemed calm on the outside, but knowing me, I was probably a bundle of nerves on the inside. Sometimes, when we should feel nervous, anxious, or even scared; we don’t really realize the magnitude of the situation we are in, and so we don’t act nervous, anxious, or scared. Other times, when it really isn’t that big of a deal, we tend to act like it a really big deal. What is the difference? I’m sure there are a lot of things that lead to the different reactions, but I have come to believe that there is one driving force behind it. We either believe that God is sovereign or we don’t. When we talk about God being sovereign, which is God is in control, people tend to get really nervous. That is because there is a theological belief system known as Calvinsim, that tends to talk a lot about God’s sovereignty. I’m not going to go into all of the details about Calvinism, but one of the biggest premises behind the belief system is that God is in control of all things at all times. This shouldn’t make us nervous at all. In fact, it should be one of the most comforting facts we can ever know. It can be comforting because it means that an all-knowing, all-wise, loving, gracious, and merciful God is in control. Things are left up to chance or coincidence. It is all divinely orchestrated. This doesn’t meant that God causes bad things to happen or is the author of evil. But it does mean that God is in control, so that even when bad things happen, He is powerful enough to turn them around and bring about something good from it. Again, I can’t think of anything that is more comforting than this. I think the apostle Peter, one night while he was in prison, would agree with me. The story is found in Acts 12. James has already been killed by King Herod, and persecution of the church is growing. Peter has been arrested, and Herod intends to kill him as soon as the Jewish festival of Unleavened Bread is over. The night before Peter is scheduled to be executed, guess what Peter is doing in his prison cell? Acts 12:6 says, “And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.” Did you read that? Peter was sleeping! The night before he is going to be killed; Peter isn’t worried about a last meal or trying to figure out how to escape. He has completely trusted God with his life, and this allowed Peter to get a good night’s sleep. That is until the angel came and woke him, and walked him right out of the prison. The point is, Peter didn’t know that God was going to spare his life. For all intents and purposes, Peter thought the next day he was going to die. Yet, he had peace in his heart, and that allowed him to give no thought to his life. Peter trusted in the sovereignty of God, and that gave Peter peace. I can’t help but wonder if this is part of the reason that our world seems so frantic right now. They are running around, losing their minds because of COVID-19. I’m not downplaying COVID-19 at all. It is a serious virus that has made many sick, and taken the lives of many. In fact, as I write this, a friend of mine is in a hospital fighting for his life due to COVID-19. Yet, his wife is posting on social media about their family’s trust in God’s plan for his life. She has no idea whether or not her husband and the father to their little girl will come out of this, or if he will step into eternity and be with Jesus. However, it doesn’t matter, because she trusts God, and knows that God will do what He knows is right. This is what it looks like to trust in the sovereignty of God. When we trust that God is in control, it allows us to relinquish control. When we trust God, it allows us to not worry and fret over every little thing that happens in life. The reason that the Bible describes God has high above His creation, is to remind us that it may be over our heads, but it is still under God’s feet. When we trust God, it gives us peace. A peace that the Bible says passes all understanding. A peace that knows no matter how things work out, it is right and God is good. So, the question is this, do you have this peace? It is available because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. You can receive it as you surrender your heart and life to Him, and then live according to faith in Him. If you would like this peace, but don’t have it, please reach out to me at pastorjustin@westlakebaptist.org. I would love to tell you how you to can experience peace regardless of the situation or circumstances of your life.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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