Lord knows I can be flakey. Ask my husband and he’ll confirm for you that I can be incredibly bright, and equally random and flighty at times. The question is not if I am these things, but the moments that I am, why?
I recently connected with something I read in Acts. I read, and chuckled, and felt intimately connected to a person who Wikipedia declares as a “minor individual” in the new Testament.
We’ll start in Acts 12:5 where Peter has been imprisoned:
“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.”
How interesting that the Angel “strikes” Peter on the side. Side of the what? Peter must have been sleeping soundly….chained in the midst of prison…. surrounded by guards. Was he really tired? Or did God’s comfort run so deeply that he figured he would let his servant catch some z’s while in the current predicament? After all, God knew what would happen next, might as well have his servant rest up.
“Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”
When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” (Acts 12:5-14)
I love that Rhoda recognizes Peter’s voice. Probably because he had been to this house before, to teach, to reminisce, to share about this Jesus. Maybe she was just a servant, but she knew a good thing when she heard it, when she saw it. Whether she was a believer or just overheard the other disciples, she knew that Peter at the door was something absolutely special. And it was. For here is just a servant, overhearing the saint’s prayers and the very person they pray for shows up at the door. No less, her door. Sure, it wasn’t her property. It would be very unlikely that Rhoda would ever own any property, but that evening she is the first hand witness -the first person since the Angel leaves Peter – to encounter him. The joy is almost to much, she is overcome, she is overjoyed. God is not only working in her little part of the world, He has invited her to have a part: she has a minor role in a major miracle. She is so excited to share in God’s work that she forgets to open the door. Um, Rhoda, Peter is still knocking…He.Is.Still.At.The.Door.
The rest of the crowd doesn’t think she’s all that special. What’s that? Rhoda? What a ditz. Just the servant girl off her rocker, a few bricks shy of a load. Talking out of her mind. The group is ready to write her off. Good thing she persists. (Acts 12: 15-17).
Really, Rhoda has her moment because she is overjoyed at encountering Peter. What a good reason to be flakey, to be so overcome with the specialness of encountering, engaging, connecting with God. I can be flakey because I am fatigued, or frustrated, or simply because of my own doing. I don’t know how many times I can mark a state of “overjoyed” with my relationship with God. Rhoda calls me higher. If I am going to be ditzy, Lord, let it be for You!
Just a minor servant girl. Just a minor individual in the New Testament, only showing up this one time, in Acts 12. But that doesn’t stop God. This little story encourages me. God loves all kinds, he appears to all kinds, engages all kinds, invites all kinds.
Rhoda encourages me to just “keep on keeping on” in my little role of an overall much bigger picture.
Keep showing up to answer the door, you never know who will be on the other side.
And, He’ll come in eventually, even if you’re a little slow to actually open it.
There’s an irony that marks my Wednesday evenings. On a typical Wednesday, I have approximately 20 minutes from when the kids and I walk in the door until we walk back out the door to midweek services. Thankfully, I have a helpful hubs which makes this process manageable, however it is still undeniably a tad bit chaotic: “Ready – Set – Go! Take off your coat, go potty, shovel down food, put your coat back on – meet me at the door – we’re walking out right now.”
What makes this ironic? The point of going is to worship, listen, learn about God, and love others. If I am not careful, the hour before church can leave be more raucous than righteous. I find myself screaming (inside my head, not literally) “for the love of all that his holy – go! go! go! hurry up! GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER. WE HAVE TO GO TO CHURCH NOW SO WE CAN BE LOVING LIKE GOD!” which is really not that loving of me at all.
So, I’ve slowed my thinking, started planning out my Wednesday night meals ahead of time, and focus on living out the good Word I put such pressure on hearing preached. Yes, we desire to be punctual, and prayerfully, some day, it will be easier. However, for right now, my reality is it is more important for me to take a couple of extra minutes to lovingly prep the household. That way, my pre-Ker is less likely to process the idea that church night = Mommy gets loony.
Why go? Does not going on a midweek mean I love God less than the times I do go? I don’t think so. We go, sometimes crying baby and fussy pre-ker in tow, because we like to. Its fun to see dear friends and learn about God. It is refreshing to get new insights into the scriptures, hear the hearts of those we see in fellowship, and experience others living the faith. Its a time to commune with believers and think about God and spiritually fill up. Its time for my kids to commune with believers and think about God and spiritually fuel up.
And I pretty much always have indigestion. There is only so much food intake and digestion that can go on in such a small window. Yes, as much I purely love God with my whole heart, I sincerely equate midweek with indigestion. Pretty much every Wednesday we’re there, I’m praying that next week I will have remembered the TUMS.
But, its a willing trade off. For the spiritual nourishment, I’ll nosh a couple of minty flavored calcium discs.