Sometimes tears flow easily from pain and struggles that you wish you and your loved ones could escape. Just this past weekend, I came undone in a flood of tears as sadness washed over me.
Often times we try to pray our way out of things that God could have completely prevented to begin with. Perhaps we are meant to be in them to learn how to trust God.
When we are close to the Lord, we know His presence is with us even when we lack the evidence of His work but on weary and discouraging days – we grasp for a glimmer of hope. We look for evidence like Thomas did when he asked to see and feel Jesus’ hands and side.
Yesterday I saw this quote on Instagram:
“The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go.”
Fall in Ohio is stunningly gorgeous. The leaves are about to turn deep red, burnt orange and bright yellow. It’s the sign that the leaves are dying and strangely – it’s beautiful.
Spring brings blossoms and new life…and summer sunshine is wonderful…but I favor the glory of fall.
It is lovely to watch the ground become covered by leaves…dead leaves.
Do you have something dead in your life you need to let go of? Perhaps it’s like gangrene and it needs to be cut off so the rest of you can be healthy.
It’s time to embrace the beauty of letting dead things go.
That brings us to The Book of Acts chapter 12.
This chapter opens with a sad goodbye to one of the first disciples to join Jesus –James. James was one of only three at the transfiguration of Christ and was the older brother of the beloved disciple John. They were the sons of Zebedee which means thunder!
These men were movers and shakers and Herod snuffed out James’ life with the sword.
And my eyes burned as I fought back tears at the beauty of James’ death.
Then we see in scripture, Peter is put in jail by Herod and surely Peter was fearing for his own life.
But then it happened in verse 5:
“Earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.“
And while they prayed – verse 6 tells us – Peter slept!
Between four squads of soldiers – Peter slept!
In prison – locked in chains – Peter slept!
Do you lie wide awake at night stewing over scenarios that are eating at you like gangrene? I have never been one to struggle with sleep. I guess you could say – I excel at sleeping. Lol! But this past year, multiple new things have come into my life that have stolen my sleep. And here we see – Peter slept.
How was Peter able to sleep?
1.) The prayers of the people sustained him.
2.) He was trusting in God.
3.) He knew what happened to James. He knew he could be at death’s door but he also knew death had no power over him. He had already died to himself and was living for Jesus.
Peter slept because he was resting in Jesus.
Even in prison – he was free.
Even in chains – he was free.
Look at what happens next in verse 7:
“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.”
Peter’s chains fell off!
What is it –that is holding you prisoner?
What is stealing your sleep at night?
Go to God in humble prayer. Give it all and I do mean all – your heart, soul, strength and mind to Jesus.
Die to self.
Now look – death has lost its sting. This thing that is eating at you has no power over you.
We are free and able to overcome the power of sin through the blood of the lamb…do not walk back into the prison cell and sit there. Do not stay in your chains. Like Peter following the angel out of the prison – we must follow Jesus everyday in His word and choose to live free.
The church did not depend on the automatic deliverance of Peter – they prayed and prayed and prayed.
James 4:2 says: “You do not have, because you do not ask.”
Our trials are a call to prayer.
Our struggles are a call to prayer.
Our weary and discouraging days are a call to prayer.
Our prisons are a call to prayer.
Prayer should be the normal response of God’s people. If we are trusting in God – we will pray. If we are waiting for something else, someONE else or some bright idea to get us out of our problem – we will not pray.
The church prayed that God would intervene. Most likely they did not pray for an angel to show up in prison or for Herod to be struck dead…but that is exactly what God did!
God answered their prayers in an astounding way.
Peter’s chains fell off!
It’s time to let go of whatever is dead in your life. Like a beautiful bouquet of balloons released to fly high in the sky – may we have the courage to let go of the hurt, the broken relationships, the bad attitudes, the worry, the fear, the things we have no control over and the dead things from our past…
What do we do now?
Move forward and leave it behind you.
Embrace the beauty of letting go.
Walk with the King,
CHIME IN: Is there something in your life you need to let go of? This is my stake in the ground. Today I am committing to move forward and let a dead thing go that has been eating away at me. If you’d like to join me – share your commitment in the comments below.