The Call to Go Back
They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”
- Acts 5:18-20
Today’s passage contains a counter-intuitive command.
Imagine what you would do if you were arrested unjustly. Would you pray that God would vindicate you? Would you ask God to miraculously set you free?
An angel of the Lord came during the night and set the apostles free. Their prayers were answered. God heard them and sent help to them. Men locked them up but God set them free. What a blessing!
But the angel didn’t come just to set the apostles free. The angel came with a counter-intuitive message: “Go, stand in the temple courts (ie. the place where you were just arrested) and tell the people all about this new life (ie. do exactly what you were doing when you got yourself arrested).” The angel lifted them out of the frying pan and placed them back into the fire.
What wild twists and turns! So it is when you follow Jesus. The same God who provides daring rescues also sends his people into dangerous situations. But he never sends them alone.
You may have gone through a hard time: a difficult divorce, a bankruptcy or job loss, a tough parenting situation. You’re glad to be through that season of life. Maybe you can even see how God brought you through it. What follows next might surprise you.
God might send you back: back to help other folks struggling through divorce, back to support folks facing fiscal insecurity, back alongside a parent who’s in over their head. And in theory, this sounds fine. We like the idea of helping others. But it isn’t always easy.
We imagine that the apostles needed to draw on all the courage they had to go back to the temple to preach upon their release from jail. Fear and anxiety would have yapped at their heels. These weren’t quarrelsome people who loved to fight. But they went ahead anyway.
Where is God calling you to “go back”? How has God delivered you? What is he calling you to do next?