My soul has been awakened – No longer does it sleep
My soul has been awakened – His word in me, is breathed
My soul has been awakened – From chains, I am set free
My soul has been awakened – My path given His lead
My soul has been awakened – His will now I can see
My soul has been awakened – For I, have been redeemed
Acts Chapter 12 opens our eyes to a similar awakening that happened to Peter. Although his is found in the setting of a physical prison, the resemblance of his release and that of a person becoming a believer of Jesus Christ are remarkable.
We find in this chapter that King Herod has just killed James, and seeing that this grotesque act pleased the Jewish people, it drove him to press forward in this battle against God’s people. His next step in that battle led him to take Peter as prisoner with every intention of an execution which would serve as an example and send a loud declaration and warning to Christians in the area. Making certain that this plan would not be thwarted, Herod took every precaution available by placing Peter in the center cell of the prison under the watch of four guards. Two, hand cuffed to Peter one, to each arm, and two set to guard his gate. This impressive watch was put in place to make absolutely certain that an escape was not possible. But we find through reading this miraculous story that the Church was praying, and God had other plans.
Reading this story, it is easy to draw a parallel between King Herod’s work to stop the church, and the work of Satan to keep us in the bondage of our own sin. His efforts are purposeful and driven pushing us to the heart of our own prison much the same as the one in which Peter was kept. His desire too is to divert God’s people from stepping into the promise laying before them through feelings of helplessness keeping them chained to the guards within. I imagine Peter probably felt a lot like us when we have lived in that moment, or are likened to those that live there now. Peter sat in that cell ready for a deliverer, but so stuck in the midst of those chains, and bound in that place by the things that he saw with his eyes that a way out just didn’t seem possible. He may have even come to a point of acceptance that this was his fate. It sounds similar, doesn’t it? I’ve encountered people with that same outlook, you probably have too, maybe you’re one of them – if that’s you, please know that isn’t a statement of judgement, but one of acknowledgement that living in a place of sin and shame can seem so impossible to get out of, that getting out no longer seems as an option, so there we sit in a simple state of existence. And no one can blame you, because this is a place where even the outsiders looking in can’t see a remedy. But reading on through Peter’s story and continuing to connect it to us today shows us that no matter what Herod did, no matter the precautions he took, or the certainties he put in place, it was no match for the fervent prayers of the church, and the plan God had for His people. You see, when it comes to God’s plan NO-ONE, and NO-THING, are going to step in His way, not even the four quaternions of soldiers Herod assigned to watch Peter. We see that as we read how he used an angel to effortlessly walk Peter from that prison. Did you notice that as you read the story? There was no heart pounding, hair raising, gut wrenching, dramatic battle scene. No, there was a sleeping Peter, who was smacked by a rod. He was awakened, and his chains were loosed, he was told to get up, ‘gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals, and cast thy garment about thee.’ Does that sound like the voice of a rushed emotion driven angel? No, to me it is a smooth declaration of confidence from an angel that knows the One in whose name he has been sent. It shows us how God is never shaken, and always in control. That angel simply walked Peter out of that prison as they stepped through the first ward, moved through second ward, and came to the city gate which opened to them, ‘of his own accord.’ In fact, it was so unbelievable that Peter didn’t even realize that what had just happened was real until the moment the angel left.
Miraculous isn’t it? Can you imagine what Peter felt the moment he was awakened by that angel? It reminds me of the moment I felt my soul awaken to the reality of Jesus Christ. Every bit of this story to the point of the angel stepping in screams impossibility, and paints a picture of doom, much like the life of a sinner before they come to belief in God…God takes these moments of impossibility and uses them to teach us of his sovereignty, dominance, and miraculous existence. He uses them to declare to us the power of prayer and that through them even the most dire of situations can lead to a triumph and victory that no one can ever imagine. He takes these moments to demonstrate that His ways are higher than ours. He uses them to identify for us that He is God, and that which He wills is that which will be. His desire for you, if your living in that prison as Peter once did is for you to see that what He did for Peter is just as available to you today, as it was for him back then. He stands ready to awaken your soul to see His existence, to see His grace, His power, His might, and understand that His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
Take that step today…Choose Him.