Acts 20:1-12

Today’s devotion is written by Mark Crain.

“Keep passing open windows!”

During my high school years, and much to the chagrin of my devout parents, I had trouble staying awake during Sunday morning worship services.  Consequently, I can easily identify with the young man Eutychus, and his gradual nodding off during Paul’s all-night sermonizing in Troas.  After all, it was very late, and it was hot (there were many lamps lit).  It could be said that Eutychus deserves credit for even attending (an argument that never flew in my childhood home), or that he made a wise choice sitting near the ventilation of an open window.  Nevertheless, the thought of giving him a break abruptly ends when reading that he fell, both asleep and out the open third floor window, to the courtyard below.  Tragically, the folks outside discovered Eutychus dead.

Hearing the news, Paul interrupted his sermon and rushed out to offer assistance to the fallen listener.  I can only imagine the frantic dash and anxious hope as Paul hugged the life back in to Eutychus.  Assuring everyone that the fallen man was again alive, Paul returned to the meeting to break bread and preach until morning.  No doubt many were converted and affirmed that night!  My young faith might have also been enlivened (and my parents comforted) by such a miraculous sermon!

This story reminds me of the catch-phrase “Keep passing open windows”, from the John Irving novel The Hotel New Hampshire.  In the book, parents instill this advice within the family as a way of encouraging their children and each other to carry on when times become difficult.  It is a means to protecting their family, knowing that a different character has jumped from an open window, with a tragic result.  “Keep passing open windows.”

Honestly, I’m not sure how to reconcile the practical advice in the novel with Paul’s powerful rescue of the sleepy congregant.  The “open windows” sometimes can’t be avoided.  Exhaustion, frustration, conflict, defeat, oppression, depression, hopelessness, anger, loss…all are situations that can sneak up on us, capture our attention, and leave us prone to accident, or worse.  To be sure, the possibility of a miraculous resurrection can seem quite remote.

Then again, there does seem to be encouragement in the cracks of story.  Paul’s spirit-led sermon filled the house.  Whether the specific message worked for Eutychus or not, he chose to be there and gave all he had to learn about Paul’s conversion and missions.  Regardless, Paul interrupted a puzzled group of loyal listeners to pursue intervention for the one who had fallen.  The reward for all of them was revival in the most profound sense of the word!

How do I prepare to be an active listener and participate in worship?

How do I respond when the message just isn’t working for me?

Where do I seek respite and healing when faced with an “open window”?

Will I see and serve someone one who is near an “open window”? 

What are your thoughts, comments, questions?

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