It is Passover time in Jerusalem (Act 12:1). Peter is arrested and thrown into jail. As can be expected, the Christian community is in shock. They are still trying to come to terms with the execution of James, and now what will happen to Peter?
The clock is ticking. What are the Christians doing? They are doing exactly what we expect believers to do. They are praying.
A group has come together at the house of Mary for an all night prayer vigil. Their prayers are focused and intense. They are praying for Peter, praying for the survival of this fledgling movement, praying for their own survival. They are doing exactly what we would expect them to do.
And then God does the unexpected.
Peter wakes up to find an angel shaking him by the shoulder. For Peter, it’s all so unexpected and surreal that he comes to the conclusion that it must be a dream or a vision that he is having. So the angel must prompt Peter to put on his shoes and coat.
Once Peter is dressed, the angel swings the locked cell door open. Peter quietly follows the angel. Then suddenly the angel vanishes. Angels do that — that can be expected. Peter finds himself alone on a side street in the middle of the night. He is free!
Peter sets of for the house of Mary. He has to tell them that God has done the unexpected. He knocks as loudly as he dares on the outer door. Silence. Then a frightened female voice whispers, “Who is there?”
“It’s Peter! Is that you Rhoda? Let me in.”
“Who?” she asks again?
Peter presses his ear against the door in time to hear someone running away. Rhoda the servant girl does something very unexpected. She interrupts the prayer meeting with the announcement that their prayers have been answered. Peter is outside.
People prayed and God answered — and surprised them by answering in a way quite unexpected.
God still likes to do the unexpected today. The problem is, often we like to tell Him how He should answer and when. Let’s keep praying! But instead of giving God directions, let’s wait for the unexpected as God answers in His own time and way.
Chantal Klingbeil is Associate Director of the Ellen G. White Estate.
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