He had encountered thousands of men like these two, yet, this time, it was different. As he looked at the bleeding and bruised men, nursing their wounds from a beating they received by the local authorities, they did not cower in fear like others who preceded them. They did not beg for mercy. They were praying and singing hymns of praises to God! It went on for a few hours until an earthquake shook the prison, causing the walls to collapse. The jailer knew that if the prisoners escaped, he would be executed. He decided to take matters into his own hands and was about to kill himself. At that moment, one of the prisoners, named Paul, called out to him.
“…Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Acts 16:28-30 (NASB)
We meet many people in our lifetime. Some encounters blossom into lifetime relationships. Others such as those we meet in the workplace or school may continue for a few years. And still others, like the encounter between Paul and the Philippian jailer, may be as brief as a few hours. God brought the Apostle Paul and Silas to preach the Gospel to the jailer. He immediately repented of his sins and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. As many of us can attest, it is not the quantity of time but the quality of the interaction that determines the significance of the relationship.
In my fourth year of medical school, I did my family practice rotation on the island of Ponape in Micronesia. For two months, I had the privilege of working under a surgeon and medical missionary, Dr. John Dreisbach. I previously wrote about the experience in a blog. (Dr. John Dreisbach (1 Corinthians 9:24-25) – The Bereans Blog)
Two years later, I began my medical residency at the University of Colorado. I spent most of that year searching for a church home. It was not until February of that year that I met Pastor Craig Scott of Woodside Baptist Church. Although I left Denver for Los Angeles at the end of June of that year, those five months profoundly changed and shaped my outlook and approach to Christianity and my faith. Here is one of the many blogs I have written about this Pastor and his church, illustrating some of the lessons I learned. (Four Times A Week (Luke 24:27) – The Bereans Blog)
The Philippian jailer and his family came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through this brief encounter with Paul and Silas. In just a few months, God used my encounters with these two great saints to profoundly shape my professional and spiritual course of my life, one that still influences me today.
All encounters, however, brief, are arranged by God. Pray that God will use these to reveal His greater glory to serve Him in His Kingdom.
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.