Acts 22:17-29

Today’s devotion is written by Sarah McClane.

In this text Paul speaks to the people of Jerusalem from the steps of the barracks.  They had been ready to beat him up, but the commander didn’t seem to want the trouble and decided to take Paul into custody to find out what was going on.

Paul recounts his familiar life story to the crowd and they are listening intently as he was speaking in Hebrew.  Until Paul recounts his experience with the Spirit in the temple in Jerusalem:

17 “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I had a visionary experience. 18 I saw the Lord speaking to me. ‘Hurry!’ he said. ‘Leave Jerusalem at once because they won’t accept your testimony about me.’ 19 I responded, ‘Lord, these people know I used to go from one synagogue to the next, beating those who believe in you and throwing them into prison. 20 When Stephen your witness was being killed, I stood there giving my approval, even watching the clothes that belonged to those who were killing him.’ 21 Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go! I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

It is significant that Paul heard and obeyed.

Diana Butler Bass in her recent book “Freeing Jesus” recounts her own experience of the voice of the Spirit….  

“My knees hurt. The cushion at the marble altar almost did not matter. I could feel the cold in my legs, the ache of unanswered prayers. “Where are you, God?” I asked.

Silence.

I looked up at Jesus in full triptych glory, surrounded by angels, robed in cobalt blue against a gilt background, shimmering sanctity. The small chapel in the great cathedral was one of my favorite places to pray, mostly because of this Jesus. Today, however, I was restless as I gazed intently at the massive icon of Christ. Usually, the image drew me deeper toward God, and the railing where I knelt was a place of awakening and wisdom. “Where are you, God?” I asked again. Silence.

“God?” A quiet plea, really, the most incomplete of prayers.

“Get me out of here,” a voice replied.

Was someone speaking to me? I looked behind, around.

Get me out of here,” the voice said again.

I stared up at the icon. “Jesus? Is that you?”

“Get me out of here,” I heard again, more insistent now.

“But Lord . . .”

The chapel fell silent, but I know I heard a divine demand for freedom. I was not sure what to think[…]” Excerpt from Freeing Jesus, by Diana Butler Bass, https://books.apple.com/us/book/freeing-jesus/id1510321232

Like we read in Pastor Vance’s newsletter last week, he also heard a message while walking among magnolias.  We all may have our own experiences of hearing from God or the Spirit.  My personal experiences are few and distinct, but generally connectional.  It seems that the important message from Paul and Acts is to act upon the calling.

Don’t say no, just go.

Where have you been called?  

What can you do to make a first step?  

How can you make space to hear?

What are your thoughts, experiences, comments, questions?

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