“Begin Again”: A Weekly Devotional for a New Year, Week 28

‘Now when Herod was about to bring Peter out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”’

Acts 12:6-11

Herod has just killed James, the brother of John, and now it appears Peter will be next. Peter knows that one day he will die as a witness to Jesus, and that his death will be very similar to Jesus’ death: “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (John 21:18)

Perhaps as Peter was taken into his prison cell, and after he learned about the murder of James, he thought to himself: “Now is the time.  This is it…”, and the reality of that set in.  The difficult emotions of believing that the end was near, and that it was not going to be pretty. When you get news like that about yourself, a loved one, or a friend, it’s very difficult to not simply throw your hands up, and say: “Well, that’s it… Nothing more to be done.”  And in some cases, that really is that: An ending time has come, and the final chapter is about to be written.

But sometimes there is a breakthrough!  And when there is, we need to be ready to wake up and follow the way out that God provides. Our text for today tells us that the angel “struck Peter on the side and woke him…”  Peter was still so much in a daze that he thought he was only seeing a vision – in other words, he thought he was still in prison! But he was being rescued, and it took a hard strike on the side to get his attention – to wake him up.

Are you in a season of life where you think: “That’s it… That’s over… No way forward… Might as well stop.” Well, it may be – God may be telling you to stop one thing, and begin another. But perhaps God is about to send an angel your way (or He has already sent you many angels!), to tell you: “No: Keep on keepin’ on. You thought night was falling, forever, but I tell you: The dawn is coming. Follow me!” 

Prayer: Lord, please send us those angels, if we need them; and help us to see what they did – what they said – if they’ve already come. God, you may want me to be done with, whatever I think is over, but if there’s still a way forward, help me to see it, Lord. Amen.

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