When Life Turns on a Dime


Acts 16:16-36

March 13. That’s when everything changed. As a teacher and mom of three school-aged children, hearing school would be closed at the end of that day for an unknown period of time rocked my world. I was working hard, cooking dinner, taking kids to practice, going to church, and going about life as normal up until then. I had been listening to the news, of course, but I had no idea how drastically life would turn on a dime March 13.

We all have those moments in life when time seems to stop. Situations draw a line in the sand, marking a “before” and “after.” Things that are taken for granted turn completely around, or even upside down, because of those moments.

Today’s passage is about one of those times for Jesus’s disciples. After Christ went back to heaven Paul and Silas are among the disciples traveling and teaching about Him. They pray and worship, travel and teach. It’s their daily work. One day they are going about their business as usual, and BAM! Life turns on a dime. They cast out a spirit one minute, and the next they are thrown into jail. Furthermore, they are falsely accused, almost mobbed, severely beaten and clamped with leg irons in maximum security. Wow!

Paul and Silas weren’t expecting all that trouble when they started work that day. So, how do they respond? By praying and singing hymns. Me -- I likely would’ve been crying over my bruises, trying to stay germ-free and lice-free in the cell, and obsessing over how to get out of there as quickly as possible. Yet, they center themselves on God. Instead of worrying about their situation they take all their concerns to God, and they praise Him.

Open your Bible. Read to the end of the story. It’s cool, unbelievable and super exciting. We meet new characters and the events get better and better! 

As you read think about the second set of characters whose lives turn on a dime in this narrative -- the jailer and his family. An earthquake strikes endangering the jailer’s job. He’s desperate to the point of suicide. How does he respond? How do Paul and Silas? How does this earthquake and the subsequent events change lives? Imagine what Paul and Silas learn from this event, and how they are different afterwards. Boy, I’m sure it puts their imprisonment in a whole different light! 

Likewise, imagine what the jailer and his family are thinking and feeling, and how this event will forever mark a “before” and “after” in their lives. Watch how they all respond to the goings-on around them. 

Monumental events can come out of nowhere, changing lives and staking their claim in history. How we respond to those events carries eternal significance - perhaps even to the extent of life versus death. Let’s be aware of our go-to responses in times of crisis and ask God to help us respond in godly, healthy ways when life turns on a dime.

Reflection Questions

How are you responding to the ways COVID-19 has upended your life? 

How could we respond more like Paul and Silas? The jailer and his family?

1 Comment

I spend more time focusing on what is my purpose during this time. I also need to spend more time focusing on prayer and Jesus.

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