Getting a new puppy when you have a nine-month-old daughter is, um, not a good idea. Don’t get me wrong, we love our new boxer, Daisy, but navigating the ever-changing movements of a toddler and the ever-moving bowels of a puppy can feel like wrangling a kindergarten class of 35 in a candy store.
Yes, having a puppy can be a challenge. The other day I came home from work to realize I’d forgotten to latch Daisy’s kennel. Even though she could have been gallivanting around the house all day, creating a beautiful mess, I found her with big ears perked up and tail wagging, waiting to be let out of her unlatched kennel.
This weekend’s reading from church has Peter in his own “kennel” of sorts in Acts 12:1-17. He’s in prison during Passover–ironically, a celebration of freedom from Egyptian slavery.
Three things strike me about this story.
- Peter’s imprisonment was hard core. Two chains + two soldiers at his sides + two guards at the door = no chance of escape.
- The angel who comes to bust him out doesn’t mince words. There’s no, “Oh, Peter, how are you doing? It must be tough here in prison.” Instead, there’s a call to fast action. “Get up quickly. Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.”
- Two people are oblivious. While the escape commences, Peter thinks it’s a vision. Then, when he reaches Mary’s house, Rhoda answers the door, and instead of letting him in, she runs around the house saying, “Peter is at the gate! Peter is at the gate!” Again, oblivious, not letting him in.
My previous image of this story included a jail cell–bars and prison garb, Shawshank Redemption stuff, but Pastor Sara challenged my thinking in her sermon notes by listing all the other “prisons” that we might find ourselves in today:
- pain (physical or emotional)
- abuse (physical or verbal)
- doubt and uncertainty
- pressure (from parents, peers, self society)
- expectations of success
- insecurities about the future
- drugs and alcohol
Like Daisy, Peter and Rhoda, I’m oblivious. I’ve been in prison not seeing bars, not to mention the gate that’s been open all this time. When Peter realizes an angel has led him out, he comes to his senses and says, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me.” He cites it as evidence. He’s sure. He was beyond escape–but not beyond God’s rescue. What prison are you in today? Has God opened the gate? If the next right step out of the cell seems fuzzy, lean on Peter’s evidence, his assurance of a God whose power shows up when we know there’s no chance of escape.