Out of the Darkness

When the water surrounded me, I was no longer afraid. Hours earlier I feared for my very life, but now all that had changed. As the darkness encompassed me, I felt the hands that guided my plunge. Then, I rose to a new life and continued to feel the pull of the guiding hands lifting me out of the depth which I would never have escaped on my own.

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I was a simple guard. I followed orders, gave commands, and made sure people did what they were told. However, even for rule-abiding officers there are forces beyond our control…especially an earthquake.

I knew the two new inmates were different. In all my years of service, I had never seen two men beaten and accused singing praises with the fervor of those two. It seemed as if nothing that I could say or do would deter them from their mission. It was as if they knew something I didn’t. It was as though they counted their lives as nothing compared to the knowledge of knowing and doing the will of their Master, Jesus.

That night as I went to sleep, the other inmates were listening as the two men continually sang praises and prayed to their God.

In the midst of a fitful night’s sleep, a rumbling and crumbling of the cell awoke me. When I went out to see about the prisoners, I was horrified by the sight that awaited me. The doors were all unlocked, open in fact, and all of the prisoner’s bonds were unfastened.

I quickly drew my sword. Surely a swift death would be better from my own hand than the stones of an angry mob. That is when I heard his voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” (Acts 16:28)

Could it really be? The shackled had become the willingly subdued? The prison break scenario every inmate had wished for and yet they all stayed?

I ordered the torches lit and light flooded the beaten bodies. They were each there. Such men of unceasing integrity and zeal, I had only one request, “Tell me, what must I do to be saved?” I must know the God who can free men’s souls from the confines of bodily chains yet subdue them to go against their own will and live in obedience unto death.

“Believe on Christ Jesus and you will be saved. You and your household.” Believe on Jesus, of Nazareth? It would take a dead man rising to new life for the changes that I witnessed in these two professing Christ-followers.

The two men came to my house, and I cleaned and bandaged their wounds as they spoke simply, but persuasively, of the divine plot of God to rescue man from sin and eternal damnation by the blood of Jesus. They spoke of the resurrected Savior, and of his appearance to one of them on his journey to Damascus. When they had finished talking we wasted no time. My whole family was baptized just as Jesus had instructed the disciples.

When Paul’s strong arms guided me out of the water I knew that my life would never be the same again. It was Paul and Silas’ voice I had heard  in the darkness and it was out of that darkness Jesus spoke grace upon my life.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV)

*This is a retelling of Acts 16:25-34. Artistic liberties were used to recreate the account of the Philippian jailer and Paul and Silas.

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